Dana Anderson on life after Mondelēz and why ‘rule-bound’ FMCG is changing

MediaLink chief transformation officer and former Mondelēz CMO, Dana Anderson, discusses the need to prioritise diversity of thought and the future of marketing.

Marketers must lead the charge for diversity of thought and innovation, according to chief transformation officer at consultancy MediaLink, and former Mondelēz CMO, Dana Anderson.

“Marketers should be the weavers of everybody. They should be bringing in those [different] points of view, and make this disparate thing into a whole piece of cloth,” she says. “People need to belong and when they feel like they belong they want to play more and work more.”

When it comes to driving innovation, she believes that marketers should be responsible for creating a “blended family” of different talents working in integrated teams with the right level of breathing space, so innovations are not killed off before they have time to blossom.

Anderson advocates starting small and then bringing different people into the fold to create a strong feeling of togetherness.

The marketers willing to take on the responsibility for leading innovation teams often have different skills that mark them out, she explains.

“Generally, people who take those jobs love the process. They never want to be in a straight line marketing job, they love this idea of creation and disruption, so they’re the cheerleaders.”

READ MORE: Product innovation or marketing strategy – What comes first?

The movement of marketing

With such a varied career to date, having worked agency, brand side and since March 2017 at MediaLink, Anderson has a real insight into the transformation of the marketing sector over the past 30 years.

From serving as managing director of JWT Worldwide, she went on to become CEO of worldwide communications group DDB, before joining Kraft as senior vice-president of marketing, strategy and communications. In 2008, Anderson became senior vice-president and CMO of Mondelēz International, a position she held for nine years.

Despite having grown up in the agency world, Anderson appreciates the “thorough and complete way of working” she was exposed to during her time in FMCG.

If you can have agility and speed with the same level of discipline, that’s a wonderful thing.

Dana Anderson, MediaLink

“It’s sometimes considered too rule-bound, but I think it’s changing. I was talking with Marc Pritchard at P&G and he’s doing a lot of disruptive things – changing the agency model and relationships. He said: ‘One of the things I want to do is change the way we do it internally, because we’ve made it too complicated and we need to simplify it’,” she recalls.

“So, if you can have agility and speed with the same level of discipline, that’s a wonderful thing. The things that startups bring is the ability to apply your passion right there and I think they become very good decision makers because you don’t have to please 20 people or prove your case. You have to have some self-confidence and go with what you think is right, and that’s very brave and admirable sometimes.”

Regardless of whether marketers are working in FMCG, retail or in the startup world, Anderson expects to see a closer “snuggling” of data and marketing, although the key will be to extract the case studies that show how data-driven insights flow into real business results.

She argues that while consultancies such as Accenture say marketing and sales will become one, this is just a different version of the same thing and regardless of sector it is better to work as collaborators than in siloed departments.

Reflecting on the state of marketing in 2018, her overriding feeling is one of excitement at the current rate of movement.

“Even though it feels very disruptive, it’s a very resilient and energised ecosystem and marketers are leaning into creativity and finding new ways to do things,” Anderson adds.

“Even though it’s a little difficult and we’re in some sort of change, we’re all still in there pushing it forward and I think it’s that underlying optimism that is so affectionate.”

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Comments
  • Pete Austin 19 Jul 2018 at 10:28 am

    Woo! Someone standing up for diversity of thought.
    Shame the photo is of all identical lightbulbs though.

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