Connecting with Bill Sobel

Mondelēz International may not be a household name yet, but its brands are. Think belVita Breakfast Biscuits, Cheese Nips, Chips Ahoy! Cookies, Chiclets chewing gum — and the seasonally appropriate Cadbury Creme Egg.

As vice president of global media and consumer engagement at Mondelēz, Bonin Bough knows them all. But he knows even more about mobile, social and using both to reach and empower customers. He's been described as a leader of the digital marketing revolution —"integrating mobile and social into all marketing campaigns and embarking on the next wave of social – empowering consumers to socially endorse products they love."

At Mondelēz — better known as Kraft Foods until a separation from its parent company in 2012 — he's responsible for leading and developing partnerships and omnichannel customer experiences that span all forms of media. (In case you wondered, monde means "world" in several languages and delez an alternative to "delicious.")

A magazine fanatic and Lego advocate, Bough is Twitter champ, with more than 14 thousand followers. He co-authored the 2010 book Perspectives on Social Media Marketing and has been recognized as one of business' hottest rising stars on lists complied by Fortune, Fast Company, Ebony and The Internationalist.

It's All About Engagement


Before joining Mondelēz, Bough spent three-and-a-half years at PepsiCo, where he oversaw companywide digital strategy and the implementation of social media tools across the company's portfolio of food and beverage brands. So he has plenty to share about mobile, social and maximizing the value of both in marketing campaigns.

Sobel: Over the past year you've talked about shifting marketing dollars away from “traditional” media to social and digital platforms. How is this strategy working?

Bough: We’re seeing tremendous success as we grow our investment in digital, which we expect to make up about 18 percent of our global media budget this year, up from 13 percent in 2013.  A lot of companies are hesitant to invest in social and digital platforms, but there are many compelling reasons why it makes sense. First, this is where customers are consuming media today, so it’s the most effective way to get your messages out. Second, digital has twice the return on investment of traditional media. Lastly, a digital approach allows you to influence consumers at the point of buying.  

During my time at Mondelēz, I’ve seen the benefits of investing in both digital and social. For instance, Cadbury decided to more aggressively target customers ages 16 to 24. After evaluating the behavior of this audience, it was clear that social platforms, specifically Facebook and Twitter, would be most effective. And they were. An investment in social strategy led to 3.3 million ad impressions and delivered an additional 10,000 Facebook and Twitter followers in just four hours.

Another great example is with our Nilla Wafers brand. With very limited marketing support, Nilla was a “quiet” brand but one that we believed had a strong base of passionate consumers. Last year, we focused all of our marketing efforts on just the singular tactic of social media. During that year, we saw a 9 percent increase on Nilla’s sales in-store, showing that we are actually driving sales by socially transforming the brand.

Sobel: You are very big in generating consumer advocacy, empowering consumers to socially endorse products they love. You mentioned recently that 3 percent of brand fans create 75 percept of engagement. Can you talk a bit about that and your recent successful social campaigns for Oreo, Wheat Thins and Trident.

Bough: We’re entering a new phase of social where it’s not just about the size of your community, but how engaged it is. It’s really about finding the most active people in the community who not only love your brand, but also want to talk about it.

As far as Oreo goes, we’ve had several successful social campaigns related to the brand. One of our most notable was during last year’s Super Bowl. When the power went out at the Superdome, our social media team took advantage of that cultural moment and sent out the “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet. The reaction we got via social was tremendous – 16,000 retweets and 6,000 favorites. That just shows the importance of real time marketing and how engaged audiences are on social platforms.

Just this month, Oreo hosted its Trending Vending activation at SXSW, where we fused state-of-the-art technology with social media in a way that was engaging and entertaining for our audience. The Trending Vending machines at SXSW created customized Oreos that represented trending topics on Twitter. Consumers could even manipulate the design of the cookie to create a truly customized snack in real time.