Mondelez's Dana Anderson: 'Pilot is our favorite word'

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Mondelez's Dana Anderson.
Mondelez's Dana Anderson.

Advertising Person of the year Dana Anderson discusses how to push innovation in marketing on a global scale

There has been plenty of fighting talk from the advertising industry about the need to be fearless and produce work that pushes boundaries. It's less clear how marketers can actually achieve these goals in their daily work.

Leading the charge by example is Dana Anderson, SVP and newly appointed chief marketing officer of Mondelez, who rounded off 2014 by being named The Ad Club of New York's Advertising Person of the Year. Well-known on the industry speaking circuit for her signature sense of humor, Anderson is a proponent of new ways of working, with collaboration high on the agenda.

Anderson joined Kraft in 2009 and Mondelez in 2012, when the CPG giant split into two companies. Before this, she held a number of senior roles at ad agencies, including president and CEO at both DDB Chicago and Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago.

Following Anderson's recent accolade, Campaign caught up with her to talk about championing ideas, collaboration and innovating on a global scale.

Mondelez is known for innovation in marketing. As such a huge organization, how can you ensure that you operate in a way that is nimble enough to stay innovative?

You have to be a little sneaky. "Pilot" is our favorite word, and we have learned a great deal of processes around when you start small and champion an idea. The global team I work with all live in the industry, and we run into stuff all of the time that is great for our brands. It is the best way to get innovation going, if somebody invested in idea. If it goes well, then the story spreads. And if it doesn't we learn and move on.

You have to keep moving and learning and feel good about that. You aren't going to be able to prove everything out, so you have to learn as you go.

Some truths are always there, but the "how" is changing all the time. You have to raise a hand, have a great time, and try to be joyful and celebrate. And it seems to be working for us.

Given your industry experience, what truths do you think haven't changed?

There is something about a brand that knows who it is and understands the premise of its brand truth. Knowing and learning what makes a brand brave and entertaining, interactive and valuable for people -- that never changes. I think creative that knows how to solve a problem will be true forever.

I think that collaborating is changing. However, there are new ways to learn from each other and be more transparent. This roundtable exchange is making us all more valuable to each other and smarter about what we can achieve together.

You have talked about the need to be fearless, in your role as a CMO, what are your biggest fears?

Marketing it is not life and death and should be joyful – it should be best part of our day. I don't know if "fear" is the right word, but the things that I worry about are attracting and keeping talent. I worry on a global basis how to improve capability. How do we keep up to speed on things like mobile, digital and great ideas, which are moving so fast, on global scale? So we are always learning how to be better client partners to our agencies.

What about CMOs operating in a risk adverse climate? How can they go about overcoming their fears?

I don’t think it is risk adverse, I think it is risk embracing. Risk adverse to me is like being frozen — everything is a risk with consequence. The key thing is to turn risks into learning. Many of the things that we do are about learning. It is about the process because of course no-one wants to be a mother or father of foolish decisions. But we need to try these things, because sometimes the payoff is really great.

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