About this Spotlight:
Mondelēz International is a global snacking company that operates in 150 countries and has net annual revenues of over $26m. Famous Mondelez brands include Cadbury, Oreo, Ritz and Toblerone.
About Mark Hodgin
As Chief Trademark Counsel, Mark is responsible for a team that manages 50,000 trademarks and 3,000 designs that support Mondelēz’s portfolio of brands worldwide.
The Mondelēz journey
Q. Mark, what are the main challenges for Mondelez from a Brand Protection perspective?
Mostly we have problems with people manufacturing copycat products. These products typically have slightly altered brand names and logos and can lead to considerable brand confusion. For example, we have had organisations producing cannabis edible versions of the sweets and biscuits we make.. We want to shut these operators down and protect our consumers from potential harm.
Online, we have issues with brand impersonation accounts, as well as things like fake sites for recruitment, or competitions that people set up for phishing. Again, we want to close these operations to protect consumers and ensure they have the best possible experience of our brand and products.
Q. How did you handle these challenges in the past?
We’ve always been good at offline. That was our main focus. But there was a growing recognition that we weren’t able to manage infringements online as effectively. We didn’t have the capacity to monitor social media and marketplaces, for example.
Q. When did things start to change?
As a legal team, we realised that we had to do something with online. The turning point came when we discovered that our colleagues in marketing services were also looking to carry out an audit of what was happening in the social media space.
We knew that the audit would throw up a range of issues that we’d need to deal with, so we started to collaborate with marketing services to make sure that our efforts were co-ordinated.
This was a first. Previously, as separate departments, we’d only ever looked at brand protection in our own silos.
Q. Why do you think this was such a big change?
Absolutely. We started to look for s solution that would help us to scrape the web and uncover all the issues that impact our business.
As part of this process we also looked at how that solution would benefit other departments, including corporate affairs, ecommerce, recruitment and information security.
This was the penny dropped. We realised that the software and system we were going to choose – which ultimately was Incopro’s Talisman – was going to play a key role in raising our understanding of the online space and supporting the way we manage our brand and improve interactions for customers company-wide.
Q. How did you work out where to move next?
Our search for online brand protection software became a formal IT procurement project. This was a huge benefit to us. It meant that when we came to start using Talisman, we had the support of project management and change management teams to help us with the roll out.
Later, this would prove absolutely critical to the success we’ve been able to achieve.
Q. How did things start?
Initially – like a lot of businesses that take on this kind of task – we were obsessed with the numbers. Suddenly we were able to identify and take down as many online infringements in a week than previously we’d been able to do in a year. But while these numbers were great, we realised quickly that they were only half the story.
Q. What do you mean by that?
We started to think: we’re not just managing and taking down infringers in a mechanical way that has no other outcome. We’re providing consumers with better experiences. We’re removing confusion. We’re protecting their health and safety. We are in fact fulfilling the business’s mission to show love for our customers in everything we do
So instead of just reporting the numbers, and taking a narrow risk-management driven view, we started to tell these stories through reports that meant something to every department.
Q. How did this help you to gain traction within the business?
Firstly, it has helped us to get the critical buy-in we need at C level to carry on with this multi-functional, co-ordinated approach to brand protection for the long term.
Secondly, it has helped us to expand what we do and seek out other ways we can help the business. For example, we’ve now started using data we generate on unauthorised merchandising as a platform for identifying ways we can expand our own licensing agreements and drive new growth.
Ultimately, this is proof that our brand protection effort no longer sits in a narrow silo. Nor is it defined by a narrow view of risk management. Our online brand protection effort is now a business enabler that supports new opportunities to continually improve the way we work, both for the benefit of our bottom line and our customers.
The Mondelēz message
Q. What do you think others in your position can learn from your approach?
As I mentioned previously, we have had the benefit of working alongside change management professionals to help us with the rollout of our online brand protection programme.
One of the biggest learnings for me is that this has been critical to our success. Our change management colleagues have helped us to articulate what is meaningful about what we do. They have also encouraged us to communicate it to the rest of the business at every opportunity.
This has helped us to create an effective programme that is also well understood and is supported right across the business.
How brand protection now benefits multiple departments at Mondelēz
|Marketing||Cleaner social media environment; more effective consumer communication|
|IP team||Greater agility in the proactive management of social media and marketplace takedowns|
|Legal||Reduced workload for business unit legal teams|
|Corporate affairs||Prompt identification and takedown of rogue pages that impact reputation|
|Ecommerce||New growth powered by cleaning up marketplace sites that infringe Mondelez brands|
|Recruitment||Identification and removal of rogue recruitment social media posts from third parties|
|Cyber security||Takedown of online security risks such as phishing scams on social media|
Key takeaways: 6 ways to bring brand protection to life across your business
1. Set an inspiring vision and supporting strategy
Clarify “what” brand protection means for the business and how it should be delivered.
2. Take a customer-centric view to team building
Assign cross-functional ownership based on how consumers interact with your business.
3. Actively manage change
Formally manage change to strategies, structures, processes and technologies.
4. Share stories, not just numbers
Share stories to help stakeholders understand what you are doing in ways that connect.
5. Invest in technology that empowers
Build smart processes and invest in the right technology from the outset.
6. Elevate to the C-Suite Agenda
Hold executives accountable for collaboration across the business.
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