Honey Maid’s ‘Wholesome’ Lessons: 5 Questions with Gary Osifchin of Mondelēz

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As 2014 draws to a close and we reflect on the campaigns of the past year, Honey Maid’s groundbreaking “This is Wholesome” campaign stands out as a case study in brand diplomacy and power.

In March, after the Mondelez-owned Nabisco brand’s first TV commercial featuring a gay couple, Honey Maid earned a wave of positive media—and yes, some flack. Social media support far outweighed the critics, but there were critics all the same. 

A full-fledged brand attack came from right-wing group One Million Moms, which stated: “Nabisco should be ashamed of themselves for (this) attempt to normalize sin… This commercial not only promotes homosexuality, but then calls the scene in the advertisement ‘wholesome.'”

Honey Maid and corporate parent, Mondelēz International, stood their ground and turned the dross to gold. On April 3, a follow-up video (titled “Love”) on YouTube addressed the reaction to the campaign, noting that “We made a commercial about what makes families, family. And we received a lot of comments. See what we did with them.” 

brandchannel spoke with Gary Osifchin, Senior Marketing Director of Biscuits at Mondelēz International, about what the company learned from the campaign—and what’s next.[more]

brandchannel: How did Honey Maid deal with the negativity around what was intended as a positive campaign about modern families?

Gary Osifchin: We feel it is critical to share stories and advertising that reflect our consumers, and Honey Maid as a brand is committed to demonstrating what the American family looks like today.

With “This is Wholesome,” Honey Maid showcased the stories of real American families celebrating the wholesome connections they share. It was inspiring to see that the positive reactions to the campaign overpoweringly outweighed the negative (by a 10 to 1 ratio), and Honey Maid wanted to recognize that fans shared the love. 

bc: When and how did the inspiration to respond to critics come about?

Osifchin: The “Love” video was created as a way to thank fans for their support. While the overwhelming reaction to the campaign has been positive, we wanted to turn the more negative reactions to “This is Wholesome” into something that embodied our campaign—love. It was inspiring to see that the positive outweighed the negative and Honey Maid wanted to recognize the fans that “shared the love.”

bc: What was it in the Mondelēz (and Honey Maid) DNA that led to this campaign?

Osifchin: Mondelēz International is an inclusive company and the “This is Wholesome” campaign is a true reflection of that. The campaign is focused on celebrating wholesome family connections, illustrating that while families may look different today than they did in the past, the family connections they have, like Honey Maid products, remain wholesome at the core.  

This represents how we run our business, as Mondelēz International has always fostered a diverse and inclusive workforce. Mondelēz International has in place non-discrimination policies, benefits and other practices that include LGBT workers. These policies and practices are essential as we compete for talent and customers.

bc: What was the social ROI that Mondelēz and the Honey Maid brand accrued as a result? 

Osifchin: During the campaign, search around Honey Maid increased 402%. Across all social platforms, content was shared more than 277K times, with the “Love” video as our most viral content. We saw a 35,000 increase of new followers and fans across our owned social platforms, in addition to 5.6x lift in brand mentions. “This is Wholesome” is an exciting next step in our brand’s journey and we look forward to the road ahead.

bc: Will consumers see more in this vein from Honey Maid and other Mondelēz brands?

Osifchin: Our brand was inspired by the overwhelming positive reactions to the “This is Wholesome” campaign. Honey Maid will continue to celebrate all families and the importance of wholesome family connections. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but we are committed to representing the diversity seen in American society today.

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