Managing digital: Mondelez Canada's Janine Keogh

Marketing VP says the key to digital is to remain curious and experiment

Mondelēz Canada's Janine Keogh, vice-president marketing, biscuit category, chatted with Canadian Grocer's sister publication Marketing about how the company is navigating its way through the digital marketing revolution.

What’s your vision for the future of digital in your organization?
From a global perspective, we are planning to shift more of our spending to digital as it is typically lower cost than traditional media, but gets higher returns.
We’ve conducted a lot of research and have significant insight and learnings to show that a small investment can pay back quickly. We also know that when you spend a combination of traditional media and implement digital media as a partner to that, return on investment is higher than if you were to do traditional alone. When I talk about digital being more cost effective, it’s also less expensive to activate in the digital space.

When it comes to digital, we also over achieve our targets. Right now we’re underestimating the level of engagement we have with our digital initiatives. We’re learning as we go to set more realistic targets. Our Olympics investment is a perfect example. When we launched our “Pride & Joy” app we set a pretty lofty target of 50,000 downloads and succeeded in achieving that well before the games concluded. So digital is not like buying GRPs in the traditional world.

The reason we’re in digital isn’t just to build brand affinity and to get great press, it’s because digital drives our business, so we’re constantly monitoring the impact of the digital investment we make in our business so we can continue to spend more in the right places.

What areas of digital do you do in-house vs. outsource, and why?
Our biggest digital asset is, which is something we developed internally. It’s basically a house for our digital assets, innovation, recipes and information on any consumer programs and activation. It’s our digital hub for consumers. We manage as a North American platform.

We went from having a director of media role to bringing in an advertising expert, Kristi Karens as director of media and consumer engagement to work and collaborate with agencies, help us with statements of work, help us understand great creative, work with Google and Twitter and all our digital partners – creating a much broader role than just working with MediaVest buying our media. We’ve essentially changed how the whole group is positioned within our company, including digital. This local team engages with the Media & Consumer Engagement team in North America and also directly with our global Media & Consumer Engagement group out of New York, providing key learnings to help us activate locally. These connections have been invaluable.

We also scan what’s being talked about across all our digital assets to know what’s trending and know what’s being talked about and utilize this to provide insight, but also help to evaluate our programs.

We outsource to our agency partners to manage all the digital community management of our brands. They are responsible for real-time creative, partnering with our brand management teams to help shape the digital strategy for the brand. This outsourcing structure enables our marketers to work on brand strategy, develop new products, but still engage day to day with the consumer.

Do you use a one-stop agency or split out digital separately, and why?
We have an “agency of one” model in most cases, which drives efficiency, and in some cases agencies have had to staff up their particular areas to be an agency of one. It allows our agencies to own the brand across all mediums, but also requires great collaboration as there are often many hands in the pot.

For example, if you think of FCB managing our Oreo brand through the Olympics, we expected FCB to partner and liaise with MediaVest, The Hive and Edelman on the PR side. It was FCB’s job to protect the brand across all these touch-points, because from a consumer standpoint the consumer doesn’t care – it has to be seamless. So I think we’ve chosen some really great agencies to help manage those relationships. Collaboration in these situations is key. When it works, it a beautiful thing. Everyone wants to take credit for the great work. And everyone should.

Collaborating is an art. The great thing during the Olympic work was I couldn’t tell who worked for who, or who owned what, because our agencies were being so collaborative and building off each other’s ideas versus holding on to their own.

We have an internal tool we use called Connections Planning to help us map and understand the consumer journey and whether the journey begins on the internet or in-store.  We use this tool to understand where in that consumer journey we should be communicating and what barriers there may be to the consumer engaging with our brand. It’s these connection maps that help us define our strategy, define our message and therefore what medium would be best. This connections planning and connections map help pull our agencies together so they know where to collaborate and create a seamless experience to the consumer.

How has digital impacted your marketing org chart?
We have created a small but mighty group with Kristi Karens leading that and also leading the collaboration with North America and our global team – these were some very deliberate choices we made. Even when you change someone’s title from director of media to director of media and consumer engagement, it can make a significant difference.

There’s a recognition right up to our global president that our investment is for the long term, not the short term. So we have a commitment to experiment, which means that even if something doesn’t work one year it doesn’t mean it needs to be cut the next year.

We are starting to talk about “altitude” – like Oreo’s “Wonderfilled” campaign – how everything ladders up to a high level for the brand… but you have to activate that locally at store level for there to be impact on the business. So, for 2013 and the partnership with the COC, we developed Olympic Pride & Joy Oreo with the Canadian flag on it, which is tangible, and our Pride & Joy app which engages with consumers through their smart phone. Then we developed beautiful “Wonderfilled” advertising that was Olympic themed to help with awareness and brand interest. Building equity and people who our passionate about Oreo is critical, but activating with a great product in-store is critical to business impact. Linking all these things together using digital assets is critical.

What are the biggest challenges you’re facing from a digital perspective?
I talked about the commitment to experiment. Because of who we partner with, we’re good at keeping up with trends to keep us leading edge. But, we have to be careful we don’t miss out on something because things are moving so fast, so we have to stay aware and curious and experiment with things that haven’t been proven yet. We’re always on the look out.

Our senior leaders are supportive — there’s no resistance here – there’s excitement, pride and willingness. And in 2015 you’ll see some of our brands both in confectionery and biscuit that will be 100% digital activation. You won’t find us unless you’re online.

What are the key expectations from your digital partner?
First and foremost, we expect them to do what’s right for the brand. So even though it might be “hip and fresh,” we expect our digital partners to think about our brands first…rather than just about the cool new medium.

We’re also pushing our agencies to think differently. When we know what our high-level idea is, we need to push them to think how the whole story works together. There are a couple of examples worth highlighting: Internally we have a culture that’s open to hearing about new things and on the ready with money and time and people. Earlier this year, we had about 24 hours to decide whether we were going to own wifi at the TTC, and which brand we would use. It all got approved very, very quickly. And so, you have to have a partner that’s able to bring those ideas forward and recognize that we’re an organization that wants those ideas, and an organization that can act nimbly and quickly

The other example is with Checkout 51, the mobile couponing app that allows users to take a picture of their grocery receipt to earn a dollar depending on what products are being featured. Once you hit $20 they send you a traditional cheque. Our ROI was three times more than a dollar spent in a traditional discount medium. We got in when there were less than 4,000 members. It was our mini-mobile futures initiative, and we have helped Checkout 51 grow its member base. We worked collaboratively with them and got in on the ground level to help shape the program.

What key lessons have you learned as an organization when it comes to digital?
Take a stand and commit. You can’t dabble in digital. You need a commitment that’s a financial commitment, a time commitment and a commitment from your agency.

We’ve learned that when you find something that works you have to double down and invest further, which is why a percentage of our media that’s digital is increasing exponentially, because it works.

You’ve got to plan ahead, but you’ve got to have the infrastructure to be able to react. Like congratulating Patrick Chan when he won the silver medal – it looked like us congratulating him spontaneously, but of course there was some planning involved!

One of the biggest changes I’ve noted is that digital is not an afterthought, it’s part of how we plan. You can’t supplement with digital, it’s about how all the connection points work, and right now digital is showing up in almost all our plans.

How do you decide how to allocate budget between traditional and digital initiatives?
We allocate the budget based on what the business challenge is and where the right point in the journey is to communicate with the consumer. We don’t set a specific target on digital spend. The only thing we set a target on is shifting in our investment because we know it works. If I see a spend with absolutely no digital, then that’s an eye opener for me. We don’t take the medium and then plan for it. We do what’s right for the brand and the consumer.

How can agencies be more effective to you and other marketers in their digital solutions?
I have to say that we’re so happy and so proud of the partners we have right now. Making sure creative agencies have really top notch digital talent, whether that’s digital planners or creative planners, they need to be just like us – not too inside our own selves and be on the look-out for the best work, and ahead of competitive intelligence.

We can’t work with people who are only in it for themselves or for agency promotion or the next coolest thing. We want to be with people who want to collaborate to build better brands. Great work will always get recognized externally, but you can’t build a program just based on getting media recognition or visibility. It has to be done with the brand and its core objectives in mind. Great work will always come with the right partners and right strategic thinking and planning.

What’s the one thing you’d like your digital agency to do better?
I would love to be pushed to set more aggressive or stretched targets. How are we really pushing ourselves and how are we leveraging all the assets within our portfolio Recognizing and leveraging the whole ecosystem of digital (paid, earned and owned media) and leveraging more from our earned assets. We want to be on the edge of our seats to make sure we’re doing the right thing. I’m always thinking if I’m not feeling nervous I wonder if we’re doing the right thing.

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