Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Kraft CEO Slams Company, Trims Marketing Staff - September 18, 2006

Rosenfeld's Internal Memo Takes Aim at Bloated Bureaucracy

For the full text article click the link in the title above. My take, emailed to Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld and Advertising Age Magazine writer Stephanie Thompson follows:

To:Stephanie Thompson

Advertising Age Magazine

Subject: Response to your article published September 18, 2006

Kraft CEO Slams Company, Trims Marketing Staff
Rosenfeld's Internal Memo Takes Aim at Bloated Bureaucracy

I couldn’t agree more with Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld. Kraft’s marketing department has long been populated by what head hunters call “the classically trained” – young bureaucratic MBAs who, whenever the word “sales” pops up, point their fingers across their cubicle to “that department over there.”

But it’s not their fault. Kraft’s culture expels “founder-executives;” those few who create brands and mentor the young. The personality just doesn’t fit corporate America – hence the role of consultants – those who can provide an unfettered dose of experience. Irene Rosenfeld may have laid a few marketers off – but then again, Irene must put into place the mentors whose creative and strategic innovation leadership enables the young to flourish. I know Irene Rosenfeld realizes that “LET’S GET GOWING” is a two way street.

One reason people fail to innovate in companies is because managers are uncertain as to whether new directions will help or hinder a company’s goals and objectives. Without mentors, someone who knows how to create and build brands from scratch, the young resort to bureaucracy for corporate survival. They must “fake it till they make it.”

What am I looking for? I remember an Ad Age article about one Procter & Gamble Chairman; I believe it was my friend Ed Artz, who sat one Sunday evening a month in his kitchen - with the head of his HR - to discuss the performance of his top 200 managers. Can you imagine how much more effective Ed or John Pepper would have been had they sat down with each of those 200 managers for a three to five minute impact meeting themselves! Who better to set the pace and lead by example!

But bureaucracy aside, I’ve found and worked with a number of Kraft founder-executives and alums who as author Jack Kerouac said, “Flew over the cuckoos’ nest” before moving on.

• Open Pit’s Group Brand Director Karen Scott for whom we pioneered barbecue’s thick and spicy segment. The thick & spicy segment grew at 66% while the baseline brand retained a 3% growth rate.
• Kraft Dairy Group’s Marketing Director Roger Harrison for whom we restaged Breyers as The Full-Of-Fruit Yogurt setting record profit and volume gains highlighted in Kraft’s Annual Report.
• Marketing Manager Eric Shultz for whom we repackaged both Kraft Mayonnaise and Oscar Mayer Hot Dogs. After Eric’s departure it took Kraft 12 years to implement recommendations to repackage Kraft Mayonnaise in wide mouth jars so that people making potato salad could actually get a large spoon into the jar and put hot dogs in zip-lock bags – both moves that expedited product usage, purchase frequency and shelf velocity.
• Jell-O Strategic Marketing Director Cindy Sila for whom our new product concepts registered a 100% top two box intent to purchase score – yet have yet to live their billion dollar interactive consumer sales day. (interactive confections are the fastest growing segment of a $24 billion industry)

This is a short list of Kraft clientele that includes lots of work for Irene Rosenfeld’s contemporaries – including ex-Kraft Chairman Bob Morrison. But, “the good die young” at Kraft. I know that Irene Rosenfeld realizes that in leadership “it is only in raising others that we ourselves become leaders.” So more importantly, Irene Rosenfeld must figure out how to hire and retain older top marketing/mentoring talent rather than the classically trained bureaucratic fresh fruit and corporate carrion on which headhunters feast - for it was one of those who asked me to remove the word “squiggly” from a new product concept I created because it was “too salesy.” The new product I created: Halloween and party favorite Jell-O Jigglers.

Thank you.
Martin Calle
Calle & Company

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