The three Fs and five Cs: Mondelēz’s new marketing approach

From embracing new technology and partnerships, to taking a ‘test and learn’ approach, the confectionary company behind brands including Oreo, Toblerone and Milka is undergoing a cultural shift to ensure it can keep up with changing consumer demands.


“Fast, focused and fearless”. These are the three qualities Mondelēz demands of its marketers.

Consumed by seven in 10 consumers in the countries it is present in, it is one of the largest snacking companies in the world responsible for filling our cupboards and fridges with brands including Cadbury, Oreo, Milka, Toblerone, Tuc and Philadelphia.

But with its business impacted by revolutions in digital and changing consumer needs, Mondelēz admits it has been slow to keep up, held back by a lack of investment in progressive technologies and old ways of working.

That is one of the reasons why it restructured its marketing team earlier this year, bringing in four regional chief marketing officers under one global CMO. The move is aimed at elevating the role of marketing, bringing Mondelēz into the 21st century and making sure it has speed and closeness to local consumers and local markets.

Debora Koyama is one of the new regional CMOs, responsible for Mondelēz’s European business. Six months into the role, she explains what being fast, focused and fearless means.

READ MORE: Mondelez’s top marketer leaves as it looks to ‘evolve’ CMO role

“[We have to be] much more agile, given the speed everything is moving, advancing and changing. Much more focused on external trends, consumers and technologies. And fearless is how we really become much more open to test and learn, to experiment, to potentially fail and learn,” she tells Marketing Week.

“The initial challenge I was excited about when I came to this role was to elevate marketing, really bring Mondelēz into the 21st century from a capabilities standpoint and unlock all the talent and power from the portfolio of brands we have – globally but also in Europe specifically.”

While the restructure has changed the way Mondelēz works, it has also changed its relationship with agencies, driven by the speed of change and need to be agile in the digital landscape.

As such, Koyama says Mondelēz is increasingly looking at opportunities to partner with startups and new platforms beyond the media and creative agencies it already works with.

Being fearless is how we really become much more open to test and learn, to experiment, to potentially fail and learn.

Debora Koyama, Mondelez

“For me, partnership is key; it’s a great way to infuse newness, fresh thinking, innovation… It’s very hard today for anyone to be an expert in everything, which is why I believe in partnerships,” Koyama says.

“It’s such a complex ecosystem that we’re navigating now but I love the fact that everything is in play. All the rules are being broken. I’m excited to partner with everyone in the industry to shape and try to drive that. Collaboration and partnerships, experimentation, creating new relationships, trying different models.”

Koyama is currently working on what Mondelēz calls its ‘Digital Accelerator’, a platform that aims to engage its brands and marketers with the latest technologies including voice, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, “all those more emerging, promising platforms”.

Around 40% of Mondelēz’s global spend goes into digital. The European figure is similar although in North America digital spend is above 50% and it feels like Koyama has her sights set on nudging Europe’s share past the half-way mark.

The 5Cs at Mondelēz

Part of the new marketing setup involves each CMO being responsible for one of five objectives to make sure Mondelēz is becoming the modern-day business it strives to be.

Capabilities (its digital transformation); community (strengthening its marketing community); celebration (talking about what it is doing best); complexity (simplifying the business and becoming more agile); and careers, which Koyama is in charge of, to help ensure Mondelēz is an attractive destination for budding marketers.

Koyama says Mondelēz is currently assessing what the key core competencies are that marketers need today.

“Linking to that, what is the capabilities agenda to make sure we’re going to be able to enable the marketers to have those key core competencies?,” she adds. “And linking to that, what is the career path? What do you need in every stage of your career, in terms of capabilities and competencies, to really become eventually a CMO of tomorrow?

“I’ve been in this business for 25 years and I truly believe this is one of the most exciting times to be a marketer.”

Taking social responsibility for snacking

While Mondelēz’s brands are hugely popular, it faces challenges in the shape of changing consumer trends as people look to eat more healthily and packaging that often isn’t recyclable. That means Mondelēz an impact on society and people’s lives that extends far beyond the shop shelves.

Cue Mondelēz’s new tagline, ‘Snacking made right’, which launched earlier this month. It aims to “empower people to snack right” – from both a sustainability and social standpoint – as well as helping people make healthier choices and being more aware of the quality and production of products.

READ MORE: ASA bans Cadbury ad and warns brands ‘don’t take easy option’ when it comes to junk food marketing

“The ability to really be able to talk to this large base of consumers is super exciting, especially because I believe in brand purpose. If you have a purpose, if you have a social ability agenda, you can really drive that and talk to a massive amount of people in a very unique way because of digital,” Koyama explains.

“There’s a cultural tension today in terms of snacking, that snacking may potentially not be good. But we know, given global customer research, that people do want to indulge. There are moments and occasions they are looking for a treat. We are looking for healthier offerings and propositions but also at the same time we know people are looking at a broader spectrum of snacking offerings.”