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The Multichannel Challenge

Changing the Conversation at Kraft Foods

When advertising veteran Dana Anderson joined Kraft in 2009, her top priority was to strengthen the connection between Kraft and consumers at every touchpoint. That involved incorporating digital and social components into the company's marketing strategy. In doing so, the senior vice president of marketing strategy and communications, now provides platforms to foster marketing's creative thinking, encourages employees to experiment with and develop multichannel campaigns, and has helped to elevate marketers as credible digital and social experts within the company. Here she discusses her internal change management strategy for getting the organization to adopt a more digital-focused approach to its multichannel marketing efforts.

Customer Strategist: What were the challenges in changing the digital landscape at Kraft?

Dana Anderson: I came to Kraft two years ago. Because of the changing marketing landscape, my original intent was to alter the conversation that we were having with our consumers to become more digital, to change the way we were interacting with our creative partners, and to transform the way that we were talking about our work internally.

A big part of changing the digital lens throughout the organization involved internal change management. Rather than send employees to a training facility, we decided to get the brand teams out of the office and hold "hot houses"—typically at an agency's office or a fun, interactive destination like Catalyst Ranch in Chicago—to encourage them to think about marketing differently.

Entire brand teams (e.g., the Velveeta team, Philadelphia Cream Cheese team, and Cadbury group) have met at these hot houses. Together, their digital, media, and design groups create a digital marketing strategy, learn new terminology, and work together as one team.

For instance, the first digital hot house we conducted focused on how to develop a good strategy. An executive from Digitas spoke in the morning about digital strategy and in the afternoon the employees went off with their teams to create their own multimedia strategies, which they also had to ensure fit in with Kraft's overall marketing message.

In these hot houses the brand teams get to meet with people who they normally would never have access to, like real thought leaders and innovators. After developing their strategies, each group takes 15 minutes to present their ideas to senior management, and the teams with the winning ideas receive a monetary award to use toward a campaign. Recently, for example, our new Gum and Candy team was awarded $3 million for its multichannel campaign. That's what makes it fun, that's what makes people say, "I want to get on the bus and change the conversation."

Afterward, the executives make a point of showing their appreciation. It's so easy to go day after day and forget the power of "thank-you," so we learned that when these teams come and play with us and experiment, a call, an email, or even a cup of coffee makes a world of difference to them.

CS: Can you share an example of a successful campaign that resulted from a hot house session?

DA: I think that the best outcome from the hot houses was "The Real Women of Philadelphia" cream cheese campaign, which is now in season two. Food Network star Paula Deen and Philadelphia Cream Cheese looked for the next big cooking star by asking women to submit a video of them making their favorite recipes with Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Participants have a chance to win $25,000, a spot in their own cooking video, a contribution to a cookbook, and publicity appearances. The campaign is marketed consistently across realwomenofphiladelphia.com, Twitter.com/lovemyphilly, Facebook.com/lovemyphilly, YouTube.com/lovemyphilly, the Kraft iFood Assistant app, and Paula Deen's blog.

By leveraging these communities, the winning videos are distributed in the digital channels where audiences already are, encouraging video sharing among friends, as well.

The results of the first season were impressive: The multichannel effort yielded more than eight million impressions in its first eight weeks, ultimately contributing to a surge in sales. With more than 5,000 recipe submissions, 19 million recipe video views, and more than one million visitors to date, this highly engaged community has now evolved into something greater than just a campaign.

The Real Women of Philadelphia not only represents a multichannel interactive campaign that matches how people are consuming digital marketing messages today, it also shows the changing dynamics between agencies and interactive design teams. It used to be that you develop your strategy, you make your plan, the agency would come, they would present you with three options, they produce the campaign, and you're done. Now because the conversation is constant, the interaction between the companies and their agencies is ongoing. We have to constantly move the conversation forward. It's more fun and it gives marketers more opportunities to learn.

CS: How do you ensure that the creative teams stay connected on a global scale?

DA: Our new multimedia way of communicating and marketing to customers often involves participation from across the organization and requires all the brands to be on the same page. When we have a success like the Real Women of Philadelphia, we want to share our idea.

To stay connected, we all have a monthly staff call, which is a really fast and easy way to get on the same page. Another way we do that is through the Marketing Leadership Council. There are 15 global marketing executives on that council; we meet three times per year to brainstorm new ideas and to discuss obstacles we've encountered. Under that council is the Directors' Leadership Council. They too come from around the globe and help to spread the word about campaign successes. We recently held a Directors' Leadership Council meeting that was completely about digital and social.

Because of these advancements, our digital, media, and design teams are now viewed throughout the organization as credible experts in their fields. Now, when they have a success like the Philadelphia Cream Cheese team did, word gets around the organization. As a result, we are getting calls from different groups, like procurement, asking us to assist them in developing a communications strategy to help them interact internally with the organization. This is proof that we're becoming a more integrated organization and that our lines of communication are opening.

CS: What advice do you have for companies on how to navigate in a digital world?

DA: Digital is moving so fast that naturally there are a lot of questions surrounding it, especially around how to measure return on engagement.

Sometimes, however, you have to let [digital] bloom just a little and build your muscles. You have to try and play with digital because there are so many great successes. There are so many advantages to doing this and the odds of stumbling over something are pretty big. Finally, once you jump in, you have to stay committed even if you fall down. At Kraft, we're still learning but we will continue to move forward and do better.