Picture this. You’re at a Gourmerican burger joint chomping a cheeseburger, when an outspoken vegan friend starts preaching that you’re killing the planet. Last week, that same vegan downed a pricey glass of pinot before their flight to a far-flung destination, armed with their strongest mossie repellant and first aid kit. Anything amiss?
The five Mondelez International brands participating in the snacking company’s first Australian Mobile Futures Program have revealed the results of partnering with technology startups to drive cultural innovation and mobile marketing investment.
The program, which has been running over the past five months and launched in May, officially kicked off with a pitch and speed dating process in July to choose the right startup for each brand. This culminated in a core 90-day challenge, which saw brands and their chosen startup partners deliver a pilot activity. Brand leaders from Mondelez also spent a week immersed in their startup partner’s organisation as the snacking company’s ‘intrapreneurs’.
The five partnerships were: Cadbury Dairy Milk and image recognition app developer, Snaploader; Philadelphia Cream Cheese and digital magazine platform, Issue; belVita and location-based services consultancy, Proximiti; Cadbury Favourites and Wi-Fi hotspot and analytics provider, SkyFii; and Marvellous Creations and gifting app, MyShout.
During an event in Melbourne celebrating the end of the 90-day program, brands shared a mixed bag of results and conversion rates from their efforts, as well as the challenges and lessons learnt from being partnered with more entrepreneurial organisations. For many, upskilling in mobile channels and technology was only one aim; the other was to try and become more innovative thinkers.
What was apparent was that many have been energised and inspired to become more agile, and welcomed the behavioural changes needed to embrace new ways of working. The next and arguably bigger challenge is to channel this into campaign delivery and wider brand objectives and programs in 2015, importantly, through retailer partnerships.
Mondelez International managing director, Amanda Banfield, said she had been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of Australia’s startup community as well as their entrepreneurialism.
“We seized the opportunity to be the third company in Mondelez to roll out Mobile Futures… as we saw this was an opportunity for us to learn about mobile and digital in a way that is much more about changing our culture and embedding a different way of thinking,” she said. The Mobile Futures Program has also been run in the US and Brazil.
Banfield admitted brand teams had to “dig quite deep to get the work done”, grappling with practical challenges, such as managing day-to-day tasks with the pilot program, as well as working in different environments that required them to build strong, distinct connections with other people in the businesses.
“But the teams have prevailed, and not only have we seen an amazing set of outcomes, we’re also starting to see a subtle shift in our culture as an organisation,” she said. “This has opened our horizons around thinking differently and both what we achieve if we go after something, but also how we can connect, learn and evolve our business and connecting with consumers.”
Mondelez head of marketing services, Anthony Ho, claimed the pilots triggered customer conversion rates of up to 50 per cent, exceeding rates recorded through classic marketing campaigns, and proved the need to take a more innovative and mobile-led approach to customer engagement.
What resonated most was the cross-functional, team involvement needed to get the program running, he claimed. Ho pointed out not only brand teams, but shopper, retailer engagement and immersion teams were also involved.
“It’s really proven how successful new ways of doing things is as well,” he said.
BelVita brand manager, Tony Nguyen, said the program had been “energising”.
“It was striking that balance between merging ways of working to find right way of doing things, as opposed to saying ‘this is the right way of working’,” he said.
Philadelphia cream cheese senior brand manager, Bianca Melky, said it was important to understand how the two organisations could fit their respective priorities and business strategies together to deliver beneficial outcomes for both side.
“The biggest challenge we’ve had as a team is there has been so much inspiration and ideas, it’s difficult to channel them,” she said.
Cadbury Dairy Milk brand manager, Stephanie Ringwood, the program required a huge mindset shift.
“This was a fresh and different approach, and it was exciting and energising to hear big ideas coming through on what our future could be, and no limits placed on what we could do,” she said. “The challenge is how to link that back to brand and business strategy and create path to purchase. We needed to keep reminding ourselves amazing ideas, how to fit with the strategy.”
While admitting it was only the start of becoming more mobile and innovation led, Banfield was optimistic about taking specific learnings from the experience into the wider business.
“We’re optimistic about taking specific leanings forward, as well as opened our minds to different ways of thinking,” she added. “This is a real gift startups have given us. We’ve done something that’s been a trailblazing moment.”
More of our coverage of the Mondelez Mobile Futures program
- Brand, mobile startup partnership starting to convert customers for Mondelez
- Marketing innovation depends on cultural transformation, says Cadbury, Oreo media chief
- BelVita Australia brand chief: Marketers need a more entrepreneurial mindset
- Marketers using measurement complexities to avoid mobile are just being lazy, says Mondelez’s Bonin Bough
- Mondelez reveals five startups to work with its brands to innovate mobile marketing
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