How Legacy Brands Are Staying Relevant For Today's Consumer

Marketing leaders from Kellogg's and Mondelez International appeared at Wednesday's Advertising Week New York to chat about how they are attempting to reinvent their marketing programs. 

"The shift we are trying to make is [from] mass marketing to building relationships with people," said Jason Levine, CMO, North America, Mondelez International.

In the age of disruption, the Oreo remains one of the world’s most popular cookie brands with over $2 billion in annual sales.  Levine says this 100-year old brand went on a "tear of a century" by being playful. 

Mondelez attempts to classify its brands under one word to have a clear purpose and mission, per Levine. “It's easier to navigate when you are consistent in usage,” he says. One Oreo celebration, for instance, acknowledged left-handed people by selling packages designed for them, with everything printed upside down. The small production immediately sold out. 

Oreo's fun extends across media, consumer activations and particularly with social media. The brand even jokingly engages with other brands, like exchanging logos with Dunkin' for a day. 



"Getting the right message in the right context is extremely important," says Levine, who adds the company relies on insights to understand consumer motivations to deliver this content. This includes digging into who is snacking, when and where, as well as exploring the emotional and functional benefits. 

Kellogg, by comparison, focuses on how the consumer uses the brand, says Gail Horwood, senior vice president-integrated marketing, Kellogg Company.

Internally, the company has integrated across different touch points by reorganizing marketing to eliminate silos. Horwood's remit extends beyond traditional marketing to include CRM, loyalty programs and packaging. 

Kellogg's The Cube brings more than 16 different data sources to examine usage cases and ensure the data is used in real time, says Horwood. In the past, this collection wasn't happening in the same room at the same time. “Now, we leave those meetings with action plans and then come back afterward to review outcomes,” she says.

Kellogg is also moving away from the traditional 30-second spot to develop what Horwood calls “three-dimensional consumer experiences.” 

Kellogg's limited pop-up cereal activation transformed into an ongoing KNYC bar that attracts 10,000 people a month. The store is linked to its loyalty reward programs. Kellogg's hosts special events with live feeds that film content for social media channels. The foot traffic has changed over time: "We are seeing the most heavy usage at night," says Horwood.  

Kellogg's intends to develop similar programs for other brands. A recent activation had Eggo/MorningStar food trucks traveling to Walmart stores to deliver customized waffles and breakfast treats. These aren't flat media experiences, she says. 

These legacy brands are also learning from smaller brands.

Horwood admires their agility. "The way they are built doesn't look at the past and only looks at the future," she says. One takeaway from studying their authenticity has been to bring its own staff to host Kellogg events. "You can tell if someone is passionate about the brand." This brand advocacy didn't happen when the company typically hired an agency to outsource this help. 

Levine adds that while legacy brands and startups are starting on the opposite sides, each are moving toward the middle. Older companies seek authenticity and passion, while startups want scale and awareness.

“The model is the same but we both benefit from learning from each other,” he says.



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