TRENDING: Mondelēz just discovered their consumers are actual humans

by Louise Burgers. When a new global marketing strategy crumbles under pressure.

by Louise Burgers. Apparently being a good human, especially a good brand human, is a new marketing strategy. This big news was announced by Mondelēz yesterday as “an evolution of the company’s global marketing strategy”. This new strategy (gasp) is called “humaning”. And Humaning – a new marketing strategy, is the title of the press release issued yesterday, November 11, from Mondelēz International about their new GLOBAL marketing strategy.

Popular culture describes ‘humaning’ as a better form of ‘adulting’ or the opposite of ‘trolling’. Urban dictionary defines it as such: “More or less the exact opposite of trolling, humaning involves not being a complete and total asshat in every way imaginable.” There is also a Pinterest account called ‘Good Humaning’ full of love and kindness quotes; and a fantasy book by new author, S. Coop, called Humaning, about an immortal who finds life a drag after living for centuries. It is described as an “unconventional romance” novel. It didn’t get great reviews.

Mondelēz describes humaning as a unique, consumer-centric approach to marketing that creates real, human connections with purpose, thereby “moving Mondelēz International beyond cautious, data-driven tactics, and uncovering what unites us all”. They have also (faint!), discovered that consumers are actual humans from the like, human race: “We are no longer marketing to consumers, but creating connections with humans.” (The italics for emphasis are their own, I kid you not).

Marketing with good intentions – from corporate social responsibility to purpose-driven marketing – has been a growing movement for more than a decade now, as brands discovered that their consumers actually appreciated it if they didn’t just try sell them stuff; but actually cared enough to help solve their problems, or challenges in the world, or made a measurable difference in their communities. It’s not rocket science. While Covid has upended many things, what is obvious to marketers is that consumers the world over are under enormous stress, financial, mental and physical, in varying degrees; and that there is no end to the uncertainty or stress. Many brands came out early on with strategies to dump the ‘hard sell’ and instead try to help cash-strapped consumers with special offers and deals; or talk to their fears, by emphasising safety protocols; or helping them stay healthy or get healthier.

So, this is what Mondelēz, the manufacturers of famous chocolate and snack brands such as Oreo and Cadbury, has to say in their “exciting!” press statement issued Wednesday: “Humaning is a natural fit for a company that creates the snacks that form the basis for connections between people all over the world and is a clear manifestation of the Mondelēz International brand purpose to do what is right: leading the future of snacking by offering the right snack, for the right moment, made the right way. With humaning, we will feed the hunger for human connection in everything we do by being fully consumer-centric: Listening, empathizing and adapting to fit consumer needs at any moment with perfectly crafted products that are a source of delight.” If I was playing Boardroom Bingo, I would be close to winning with that mouthful. And if they were solving world hunger, then these platitudes would be appropriate.

“We intend to apply the humaning approach to all that we do at Mondelēz International, both internally and externally,” said Martin Renaud, global chief marketing officer, Mondelēz International. “Snacking is all about forming connections with other people over the snacks we enjoy. People are craving connection and a human experience from brands – particularly in what has proven to be an incredibly unusual year. We want to make brands, campaigns, initiatives, and a culture of humaning that truly connects with consumers as people and genuinely has an impact on the world around us.”

Seriously, we understand the need for connection and the fact that snacking is part of that social interaction, like so many other products. But to tie it to such an obvious marketing campaign, and global, nogal, just seems a bit, well, obvious. And quite frankly, if the brand didn’t see its consumers as human beings before, then what has it been doing with its marketing spend all this time? And who has been buying its products? Amoebas?

“Unusual times”?! It’s a total sh*tshow and global brands like this are expected to do better than state the obvious. It is trite and insulting and I would have expected better from such a popular, global brand, which has created brilliant creative over the years, such as the recent  tearjerker, Oreo Proud Parent, that gave us all the feels; or the wonderfully frothy Cadbury’s ads over the years. I can only think that something was lost in translation over yet another Zoom; or the marketing team have a sugar-high from comfort eating too much of their own product while working from home.


Louise Burgers (previously Marsland) is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.


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