On most workdays Lauren Fleischer is a typical consumer packaged goods marketer, guiding products like Sour Patch Kids as the senior associate brand manager for candy at Mondelez International. But on Fridays, she takes a sharp turn into the tech world, overseeing a startup called Prankstr, a digital tool that allows users to pull elaborate pranks on social media.
The project is one of the first programs launched by Mondelez's "Mobile Futures" initiative, which pairs brand executives with a venture-development firm in an attempt to infuse a more entrepreneurial attitude at the company, whose brands include Oreo and Nabisco.
Other consumer packaged goods companies have launched similar programs in recent years. But the Mondelez program, which began in 2012, seems especially critical as the marketer looks to grow its North American mobile and digital spending from about a quarter of its media budget to more than half of all spending by 2016.
The company is partnering with a venture development firm called Prehype, which is helping to build and launch the startups. The ventures get seed funding from Mondelez, and plans include using the projects to market Mondelez brands. But ultimately, the programs will be run as stand-alone startups and negotiations are already underway with brands not owned by Mondelez.
The first startups out of the gate are Prankstr and another called Betabox, which seeks to adapt traditional product sampling to the digital age by pairing brands with ecommerce partners.