Mondelez Searching for Startup Partners as it Boosts Mobile

Maker of Oreo, Ritz, Nabisco Creating Network of Tech Companies, Incubators, Angel Investors

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Just days after launching as a standalone global snacks company, Mondelez International is putting out a call for fresh ideas from tech startups as the marketer seeks to boost its mobile marketing budget for big snack and candy brands such as Oreo, Trident and Ritz, a top executive told Ad Age .

The marketer -- one of two new companies formed Monday when Kraft Foods split into two -- is casting a wide net, forming a network of incubators, venture capitalists and angel investors as it searches for new technologies to help its brands bust through in the emerging mobile channel.

The program, called "Mobile Futures," begins next week with an open call for "shovel-ready" mobile technologies that the marketer plans to launch within three months in support up to 10 brands. In a second phase, Mondelez will pair brand teams with the selected startups to create new mobile ventures from scratch within 90 days. Mondelez will then pitch the concepts to angel investors and venture capitalists in hopes of securing seed funding.

"This is about challenging our people in that second phase to think like a startup," Bonin Bough, Mondelez's VP for global media and consumer engagement, told Ad Age . "What we are trying to do is build the muscle memory so they are familiar and used to what it's going to take to win in that mobile space." He is expected to announce the initiative Wednesday afternoon at an Advertising Week event.

For instance, the marketer is looking for help in so-called "social TV," meaning mobile applications that would work closely with a marketer's TV advertising, as viewers hop between the big and small screen. Other areas of focus are mobile applications for in-store marketing, as well as technologies that can help the company lure on-the-go consumers to stores where its brands are sold.

Consumers are spending an increasing amount of time on mobile devices, which account for 23% of daily media consumption, according to Mondelez. Still, marketers have yet to dedicate a major percentage of their ad spending to the channel. This year advertisers are spending about 1.5% of their media budgets on mobile with that forecast to jump to 2.4% next year and 5.5% by 2016, according to the Ad Age Mobile Fact Pack, which cited eMarketer. Mondelez is planning to invest 10% of its global marketing budget in "mobile activations and channels across the entire consumer journey," Mr. Bough said in a statement. "Our goal is to become one of the top mobile marketers in the world."

The company did not disclose what it currently spends on mobile marketing. The brands that make up Mondelez spent $1.86 billion on advertising worldwide across all channels last year, according to financial filings.

Mondelez is characterizing its program as a "network" that will include other supporting organizations, such as Viacom, AT&T AdWorks, incubators Prehype and Kicklabs and two unnamed convenience retailers. Participating angel and venture capital investors are: First Round Capital, New World Ventures, Commerce Ventures, OCA Ventures, Intel Capital, BlueRun Ventures and Transmedia Capital. Also involved are the marketer's media agencies, MediaVest and Horizon Media.

The initiative follows moves by other consumer packaged-goods companies to build tighter relationships with startups. PepsiCo, for instance, recently launched a formal relationship with startups called Digital Labs in a move to be "front and center with these companies," rather than relying solely on agencies or other partners to facilitate relationships. Mr. Bough is a former senior global director-digital and social media for PepsiCo. He said that in the past CPGs took a "catch-as-catch can" approach with startups, "randomly" meeting with them on projects. Mondelez's program is "about creating a structured process for driving continued innovation and doing it at scale."

The company will begin taking submissions from startups on Oct. 10 at

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