Mondelez: Prioritising inclusion takes perseverance and persistence

The confectionary giant affirmed its long-term commitment to diversity, as new UN research reveals progressive brands can drive 52% stronger pricing power.

Cadbury Fingers
Source: Cadbury YouTube

Inclusive marketing has the power to pay back in the short and long term if brands are willing to stay the course, according to senior vice-president of consumer experience and digital commerce at Mondelez International, Jon Halvorson.

Speaking yesterday (18 June) at Cannes Lions, Halvorson explained that getting the diversity and inclusion agenda right takes commitment. He cited the example of Cadbury, which worked with agency VCCP on a campaign for its Fingers brand, collaborating with Chelsea FC to connect with the deaf community.

“From our diversity library work I picked this one because I want you to see that it is true partnership and perseverance that works. As we see in the [UN] data there is immediate impact that happens in the short term, but a compounding impact through persistence and commitment on a much deeper level,” he explained.

“This wasn’t a success in year one, but the brand team, the marketers believed, fought for the idea and continued to grow.”

An additional critical step we have is incorporating DE&I metrics directly into our creative and production excellence KPIs.

Jon Halvorson, Mondelez

Halvorson was speaking on a panel with Professor Andrew Stephen, deputy dean for faculty and research at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford and L’Oréal professor of marketing.

Stephen has embarked on a new piece of research in association with the UN Unstereotype Alliance to test if progressive advertising drives sales. The research is based on advertising and sales data from 392 brands across 58 countries, running from 2020 to 2023. The study incorporates data from Unstereotype Alliance members including Bayer Consumer Healthcare, Diageo, Kantar, Mars, Mondelez and Unilever.

“Brands that adopt more progressive and inclusive advertising practices achieve five things,” said Stephen. “One, they sell more. Two, they grow more. Three, they retain their customers better. Four, they commercially perform better and fifth, and by no means least, they do much better for society.”

The research found progressive advertising drives “significant sale impacts”, both in the short term and long term. According to the study, brands that include more progressive portrayals in their advertising perform better commercially, delivering a short-term sales uplift of 3.46% and 16.26% greater direct long-term sales than less progressive advertisers.

The research also found brands with progressive advertising have a 9.8% uplift in being considered meaningful and are 11.8% more distinctive.

Furthermore, consumer intent to repurchase was found to be 29% higher for brands with progressive advertising, while pricing power was revealed to be 52% higher. In addition, strong purchase consideration is 1.43 times higher for brands with an inclusive approach to advertising.

While just the topline figures have been released – with a full report landing in September – Stephen’s team claim this study proves progressive advertising plays a critical role in bolstering brands as key corporate intangible assets.

Diversity metrics

It was in 2018 that Mondelez ramped up investment in its diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) agenda, explained Halvorson.

Prior to that the company had some “lighthouse examples” of diversity and inclusion work, such as the Oreo rainbow cookie, efforts which while commendable were not reflective of the broader marketing strategy.

Six years ago, the company decided to embed diversity and inclusion “into the very fabric” of the end-to-end marketing process, looking at the whole approach from the ground up. This meant striving to “go beyond just representation” both in front and behind the camera.

“We shifted from viewing these principles as merely moral or ethical choices to understanding them as key drivers of business success and brand relevance,” said Halvorson.

Cadbury: Balancing short- and long-term growth is a ‘tricky tightrope’

Recognising no marketing is created in isolation, Mondelez focused on how it could collaborate closely with its agencies, asking them about their commitments and mentality to ensure diverse talent was always sat around the table.

“An additional critical step we have is incorporating DE&I metrics directly into our creative and production excellence KPIs. This integration means that our commitment to diversity is put on the same rank and importance as our financial measures and that the rigour is connected,” said Halvorson.

“Every single day Mondelez marketers see as they move forward on DE&I they are also moving forward the business. And that’s important because it shows that connectivity between our actions and our outcomes.”

He added that this reorientation towards inclusivity, as the UN research suggests, is essential for business success and building a “stronger, more competitive Mondelez”.