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Inside Mars Global Food CMO’s content strategy

Social resonance Social resonance
Photo credit:

John Morgan

By asking a few simple questions, Mars' Global Food CMO, Silvia Davila, produces work that truly resonates with its consumers.

Hailing from Mexico, Silvia Davila is VP and Global Food CMO of Mars, heading up one of the six core Mars properties that include Petcare, Chocolate, Wrigley, Drinks and Symbioscience.

Davila is responsible for the marketing behind world-renowned brands Dolmio, Masterfoods, Uncle Bens, and more since being appointed to the role in 2014. Although her journey to the position has been anything but traditional, explaining that her divergent path is, in fact, a key contributor to her success.

Having started in emerging markets, Davila gained an astute understanding of both developing and developed markets, how cultural nuances can vastly affect products and a clear understanding of how technology can best be leveraged to impact strategy positively.

“It’s been quite some experience,” she says.

HT: How have the changes to marketing technology better helped you connect with Mars consumers?

It really has changed the way we speak to consumers entirely.

Marketing technology enables the creation of content with real social resonance

Previously we would have an abundance of content and very few channels of communication. Now, it is the exact opposite. People used to have a lot of time, but given the explosion of ways to connect with consumers we have had to go back to fundamentals and ask simple questions like:

What is the insight that we are keen to find out?

What’s the tension we’re trying to resolve with consumers that will enable us to communicate with in a way that really resonates with them?

For us, these questions help us find our sweet spot.

It’s not about getting a message in front of as many people as possible, which can be done at unprecedented scale, but rather, working out messaging based on relevant insight which gives it the power to connect with whoever sees it.

Marketing technology enables the creation of content with real social resonance

HT: It is interesting looking at the different types of businesses we see at events like Cannes Lions, particularly the presence of some of the world’s largest tech companies too, which suggests an interesting shift. What are your thoughts on this?

It is really interesting to see. Commerce is starting to become media, and what you thought was media is starting to become commerce. So there’s some incredible crossover.

What it comes down to is the astonishing understanding of audiences these tech platforms have. This is their advantage.

Even more so when you consider that consumers are platform agnostic when it comes to content consumption.

With this in mind, and like I mentioned earlier, you still need to maintain core principles to ensure you create messaging that is both relevant and far reaching, regardless of outlet. The outlet becomes meaningful only when you choose where to put content because ultimately this is what gives you a return on investment.

After all, it is very easy to place bets on outlets that provide little to no return. So we need to be as demanding in our creative deliverables as we are with the metrics that we are using to check on effectiveness.

Both hold equal significance.

HT: How do you harness data to break through the noise of competitors and the thousands of messages seen by consumers each day?

I went to a talk recently given by such an impressive mathematician. She was trying to help those watching understand the sheer amount of information that is available to us. She explained that if we were to stack all of the information we have into songs, that it would take 750 million years to listen to them all, one by one, without any repetition. With so much information out there, making it all digestible to the consumer is the task faced by marketers today.

And for me, creating social resonance is one of the only ways to break through all of the noise and have consumers even consider messaging, or the first 3 seconds; something which, by the way, has become incredibly important because of Facebook’s auto-play feature.

Those first 3 seconds need to be relevant enough that it hooks consumers for the other 20 seconds. Achieving that comes back to the relevancy factor and being able to communicate the right message to the right person.

Insight never changes, but the way you tailor messaging to make it relevant does. You adapt those things but you don’t adapt your insight, you don’t adapt who you are as a brand or who you are as a company. So I think that that’s where the sweet spot is.

HT: Where does video sit within your own marketing strategy and how important is to you?

It’s growing in importance. If I go back just three years it was barely a consideration. We were only thinking in 15, 20 or 30 seconds three years back, yet now it is essential.

Right now, for example, every one of my brands has their own social platform. Each one needs to take into account not only what it is selling, but also what we stand for. And working out what resonates, once again comes down to gaining a deep understanding of the consumer.

We have great examples of video that have created an incredible reach. We have a brand of Italian sauces, called Dolmio, and we created an ad called the ‘Pepper Hacker’. Essentially it is a pepper grinder that shuts out technology around the dinner table.

The ad is a real social experiment, and when we put it out there it was only meant to be a test, but in four weeks we were closing in on 50 million views. After 3 months, we were at over 80 million views.

It suggests we were really touching something that’s meaningful to consumers.

HT: How have you had to shift your strategy to optimize for mobile?

I heard recently that 73% of adults spend the whole day beside their phone without leaving it at any time. It’s there next to us, in our hand, always.

I just tend to think of it as the new screen.

The problem I have found however is that a lot of traditionally used metrics aren’t equipped for the mobile shift.

So it is down to us as companies and an industry to innovate around this area, and fast.