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Dana Anderson

Dana Anderson

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Trendsetters: Dana Anderson of Mondelēz Shares How Collaboration is Key to Marketing's Future

At the end of September, Mondelēz International announced Dana Anderson's appointment as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of the multibillion dollar snacking powerhouse with brands like Oreo, LU and Nabisco biscuits; Cadbury, Cadbury Dairy Milk and Milka chocolate; Trident gum; Halls candy and Tang powdered beverages, and an extraordinary foothold in 165 countries. Frankly, there is no better candidate for a 21st century CMO.

Dana Anderson has been an advocate for extraordinary quality and relevance in advertising. She's also managed to embrace the new with apparent ease, while constantly challenging convention—and sometimes big convention. She once noted that executive recruiter Korn Ferry said that the most vital characteristic of the modern CMO is learning agility. Dana possesses that rare ability to not only embrace change, but to realize that past success has little to do with navigating in the present, and certainly not in the future.

She characterizes today's marketing dynamic as the reduction of time and the expansion of channels through digital means. (She has said often that "digital just didn't make one new channel—it created thousands of new mediums.") Ideally, this requires not only a new way of working, but also a diverse group of creative contributors who can thrive amid change and chaos. And she reminds us, "Creativity in all of its forms is vital to consumers, so it's vital to us."

Dana believes, "More people are playing a part in the marketing of a brand. Today, we need a rich chorus of people to solve problems, jump higher, work faster, and collaborate better. This is a new community of creators, strategists, entertainers, content providers, production houses, and social media companies, plus many others with varied skills sets, who collectively have a seat at the table and can face a challenge together by adding capabilities that can meet shifting demands."

And while the community that serves the brand is larger than ever before and requires many new kinds of creative partnerships, managing the brand is harder. This is particularly true if a brand is part of big corporation that loves proof and prides itself on control and measurement. Dana suggests that "We now have to work with ‘strategic intuition,' or ‘studied improvisation'-- a combination of right and left brain functions. Whatever we do, we have to find a way to include this diversity of contributors to be part of the brand story." She adds that younger people are often more comfortable with this form of working—perhaps the result of "growing up social" or simply accepting a "hacking" culture of shared problem solving.

In fact, she recognizes that the acceptance of iteration offers great opportunity, but it can also generate considerable challenges for people who are used to being in charge. "Of course, we have to embrace iteration—today's world requires that we continually ‘throw out and learn.' The tough part is that no one is going to fully understand every step the process. We just can't know it all. Perhaps we can learn it, but then we're up against that time and breadth continuum of today's tech world. We have to bring together many varied collaborators today to fully solve a problem."

Marketers, she feels, are optimists. "We work toward solutions and keep evolving. Marketing is part of culture, and culture is always changing--and will never be the same again. There's an important message for those who are lamenting the old way of working: this should be a time of celebration and excitement about a new ways of working."

She accepts that a transition will start when more clients introduce new programs and model different behavior. "Change will occur faster than we anticipate. As marketers, we will ultimately request new ways of working to leverage a community against a single purpose."

She adds, "If you want inspiration from the power of change, go to San Francisco. We just attended a meeting there about wearable technology, and I was charmed by a purse that also charges a phone or an iPad! How wonderfully practical and terrific! Go talk to the folks in Silicon Valley, and you'll look at the world in different way. After spending some time there, you can't possibly think the world is dark."

Dana Anderson is a member of THE INTERNATIONALIST 1000 initiative--1000 Marketers Around the World Reshaping the Future of Marketing in global partnership with the ANA/Association of National Advertisers.. She is also a chapter contributor in the upcoming book, The Reinvention of Marketing, to debut this fall, published by The Internationalist Press with the ANA.