Mondelez VP Offers Food for Thought on Empowering Customers

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. 

People were using the hashtag #EatTheTweet to share their feedback on the experience and the Oreo itself. And apparently people loved it. This activation saw the largest spike in Oreo social conversation since the Super Bowl in 2013. The Oreo Trending Vending activation also had the highest Twitter engagement at SXSW among other food and snacking brands.

Another great example of the integration of media was when Trident partnered with Fuse and Twitter to create a cross-platform music entertainment program called Trending10. Trending10 brought viewers the top ten trending music-related stories of the day, which were filtered to show which artists were generating the largest spikes in Twitter conversations. Like Trending Vending, this Trending10 social campaign showed how a brand was able to utilize social media conversations, increase media engagement and drive overall media investment ROI. 

Sobel: You are known as someone who believes in integrating mobile and social into all marketing campaigns, especially Facebook and Twitter. Can you tell us a bit about those programs?

Bough: Brands like Cadbury Crème Egg, Milka and Nilla Wafers have had a lot of recent success with campaigns on Facebook, and that prompted us to reevaluate our media approach. We recently entered a global strategic partnership with Facebook, which leverages the scale of both businesses to deliver overall competitive advantage via step-change brand building, groundbreaking innovation and access to research, training and capabilities. For the first time, we’ll be able to incorporate Facebook at the core of our media investment plans. This isn’t just about having a social media strategy; it’s about digitizing our entire approach to communications

Last year, we announced a global partnership with Twitter to power our global real-time marketing capability. The partnership allows us to take our real time capabilities to the next level in terms of analytics, instant engagement and global scale and be on the forefront of real-time innovation. For example, as part of the relationship, Twitter has dedicated teams for Mondelēz in Brazil, India, the UK and the US to collaborate with local marketers and leverage Twitter’s real time analytics capabilities.

Sobel: You say, “to make your media spend work smarter, you need to measure the overall media ecosystem. You can’t look at one single post – or for that matter a single channel – you need to measure how the channels are working together.” Can you explain that?

Bough: Single posts and channels don’t work alone. They’re part of a much larger media ecosystem where channels work together, and that’s something that companies and brands can leverage. When you measure things holistically and really evaluate how channels work together, you get a much more robust picture of the impact of your media.

Oreo’s “Dunk In The Dark” spot is a great example of this idea. To measure the impact of this post, we couldn’t just look at how the Super Bowl amplified our message, but we also had to consider the reverse — how the Oreo tweet amplified the Super Bowl. We really had to look at how different forms of media were working together to reach our audience.

And there’s tangible evidence of this. When we analyze our marketing mix models, we noticed that TV spot gets twice the effectiveness when a spot is run on digital and TV versus running the spot solo. There’s definitely a symbiotic relationship among media.

Sobel: Many of our readers are CIOs, CMOs and marketing and information managers who are concerned with the optimal use of their organization's digital information. Any suggestions?

Bough: When it comes to digital information, the bottom line is that you shouldn’t take a “wait and see approach.” Don’t be hesitant to embrace emerging media and trends, or to rethink how you’re using traditional and digital channels. I’m a big advocate of mobile because it allows you to engage your customers at point of sale, which can completely change the marketplace and your business strategies within that space. Social media is also a powerful tool to leverage because you can create connected experiences across devices and platforms.

One specific way you can optimize the use of your digital information is to own moments of culture. You should try and craft strategies that allow you to insert your brand or organization into a cultural experience, like Oreo did at the Super Bowl. This is a strategy that also worked well for us with Oreo’s Daily Twist campaign. We used digital, mobile and social platforms to design an Oreo a day that represented relevant trends.  This campaign was well received because we paid attention to topics that our global audience cared about at that very moment.

My final piece of advice is put your money where your mouth is. Creativity and ingenuity should drive your business, but you need to be sure you take tangible action and have practical goals. For example, at Mondelēz, we have a “Getting to 10” plan that drives 10 percent of all media spending into the mobile space. You have to implement strategies boldly.