What does turning a billion people on to chewing gum teach you that will help you successfully manage an organic, good for the Planet brand? We sat with Linda Lee, CMO of Stonyfield to find out.
1- Boxes are good
We are often encouraged to think “outside of the box”, to the point that we come to think that boxes are the enemy. They are not, argues Linda. When we are asked to think “out of the box”, what we are really being asked to do is to engage in creative problem solving. Understanding, instead of avoiding, “the box” or real life limitations that are in play is actually crucial if we are to succeed at solving the problem.
2- Experience is over rated
We typically chose who should lead a high profile business challenge by looking at the candidate’s experience. Linda admits that she actually went into major challenge of her career not having done the job before and thus learned that “naiveness”, or the lack of experience, is what actually allowed her to ask dumb questions, bring fresh thinking and ultimately succeed as a leader.
3- F@*k security
Anyone who wants to achieve something big must show up to work ready to be fired. Being concerned about your job security is actually a major impediment to taking the necessary risks that are stopping others from taking action and ultimately doing the right thing.
Of course you may fail and get fired, but considering what you set out to do, that’s OK. Because that’s the only way you might achieve something really, really big.
Prior to joining Stonyfield and in just five years, Linda grew Mondelez’s North America savory business to $2.6bn and successfully launched two $100mm+ new businesses in 18 months – Stride gum in China and Good Thins snacks in US.
She received her BS in Chemical Engineering from Cornell in 1996.
This in interview is part of Chaco’s 90 Seconds Of Wisdom series: our mad attempt at countering oceans of information with drops of wisdom.
OBJECTIVE boost awareness in the lead up to the FIFA World Cup
CHALLENGE Nike and Adidas had famous campaigns, enormous budgets and legendary athletes. Puma did not even have a positioning.
SOLUTION interviewing players we learned that consumers’ perception of Adidas and Nike’s was strikingly similar: the tough American/German coach driven by success with an almost militaristic approach discipline (just do it/impossible is nothing). Puma on the other hand was seen as more easy going, the coach that reminds you to have fun.
Semiotically, Nike and Adidas have both, for years, been using the language of Duty as the path to Glory (much as “the few, the proud, the Marines“). By talking to players we learned that all that hard work is just the cost of entry for any competitive endeavor: after that, what makes the difference is how much you enjoy yourself, how much you love what you do.
Like our competitors, we decided to tap into the Belonging instinct that rules team sports. But instead of insisting on the cost of entry (fulfilling a duty), we claimed Love, its chemical reward, awarding Puma the emotional high-ground.
RESULTS brilliantly executed by Syrup, the Love strategy became a viral sensation giving Puma more visibility than Adidas -the event’s official sponsor- in the weeks leading up to the World Cup.
Even after agencies changed, the brief kept paying off and lead Droga5 to Cannes Gold.
Imitation is certainly the highest form of flattery: today there are no fewer than 3 agencies and a dozen portfolios claiming credit for this work. If you encounter them, ask them about it. It’ll be fun.