Mondelez CMO defends calling marketing strategy ‘humaning’

Martin Renaud is sticking to his guns.

Humaning: Mondelez International's marketing strategy
Humaning: Mondelez International's marketing strategy

Mondelez International chief marketing officer Martin Renaud has defended the company's decision to call its new marketing strategy "humaning", despite criticism on social media.

The company defines humaning as "a unique, consumer-centric approach to marketing that creates real, human connections with purpose, moving Mondelez International beyond cautious, data-driven tactics and uncovering what unites us all".

Mondelez added that it is no longer marketing to consumers, but creating connections with humans. It said in a statement: "Humaning is when storytelling becomes storydoing."

Journalists, PR professionals and marketers circulated Mondelez's announcement on Twitter last week, mocking its use of the word "humaning". However, Renaud is sticking by the term.

"There is a lot behind one word and I understand this word can be seen sometimes as a buzzword and people are asking: 'Why did they do that?'" he told Campaign sister title PRWeek.

"I assumed that would happen in a way, because I wanted my team and partners to stop and think about what we have achieved so far and where do we want to accelerate our journey. I kind of like the fact that people are wondering: 'Why are you creating such a word?'"

Renaud added that he understood that without knowing the meaning behind the word, it could sound "a bit strange". However, he insisted he wasn't worried about what critics were saying.

"I would like an invitation to talk about this deeper," Renaud added. "I hope the criticism is more, 'Let's understand what they meant by that and grow together.' I am so happy to learn from others. It is a two-way conversation I would love to have."

He noted that while its ad agency, Ogilvy, was supporting Mondelez on the initiative, Mondelez had worked internally to understand "who we are and where we want to be good".

Renaud said that the company had decided that it wanted to launch its next vision internally, because it has achieved what it set out to do at with its most recent growth strategy, which it rolled out in 2018, when Mondelez decided to move from a financially driven mindset to a consumer-centric one.

As part of this, Mondelez accelerated its digital journey, invested more in paid media and employed precision marketing. With that, came a new way of building brands, Renaud said.

"We started to think: what is so unique about our brands and categories?" he added. "The point for me is not to be unique in the world just to be unique in the world. It is to make sure we are doing the right marketing for the categories we are in."

A recent survey conducted by Mondelez found that snacking helps consumers connect with each other.

"We have all of these incredible connection stories and we will unleash our brands If we can really capture that for our brands," Renaud said. "That is where this idea for connecting to people and connecting with humans came from and that is how we arrived at 'humaning'."

The marketing team now has four focus areas around this: leading with purpose; making each product "right"; mastering creativity; and being digital first.

"This is the beginning of a journey," Renaud said. "It is just an agreement that as a team we will [focus on these areas] to help us connect our brands better with our consumers to answer their needs better and drive more results."

Recent activity from Mondelez brands globally includes the launch of Oreo's #ProudParent platform in the US, celebrating families of all kinds in partnership with LGBT+ charity PFLAG; and Cadbury Dairy Milk UK's "Donate your words" campaign, which aims to combat loneliness among the elderly.

In India, Cadbury Dairy Milk has been showing its appreciation to essential workers during the pandemic by replacing the logo on its chocolate bars with the words "Thank you" printed in seven languages. Proceeds from sales of the "Thank you" bars helped provide medical insurance for 17,000 essential workers in partnership with local NGOs

Mondelez International's net income for Q3 was $1.1bn, down 22% from Q3 2019. Sales were $6.7bn, up 4.9% year on year.

A version of this article first appeared on prweek.com.

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