Mars pushes parent brand

03 October 2011

NEW YORK: Mars, the food, confectionery and pet care giant, is seeking to raise popular awareness of its corporate credentials and activities in areas such as sustainability and responsible marketing.

"We have always been active in communicating about our products, but historically did not feel the need to say much about our company," Paul S Michaels, Mars's chief executive, said.

However, Michaels suggested "times have changed", meaning although consumers still demand goods that are reliable and affordable, they now exhibit a range of extra requirements.

"Those expectations have in no way diminished, but today, there is also an expectation that companies demonstrate quality and values in everything they do to bring these products to market," he said.

In reflecting this, Mars is providing more information to shoppers, such as through its recently-redesigned website, which details the firm's five core operating principles, based around "quality", "freedom", "responsibility", "mutuality" and "efficiency".

These ideas are being extended into adding in-depth nutritional data to product labels, engaging in health-led education and innovation programmes, and championing new scientific research.

More specifically, Mars has laid out environmental goals like ensuring plants and offices use no fossil fuels, and emit no greenhouse gases, by 2040, alongside developing eco-friendly packaging.

Sustainable sourcing is also a key issue, and the company has committed to working with customers, academics, suppliers, governments, NGOs and other enterprises to tackle major problems.

"Our objective is to create lasting, mutual benefits for all those involved in our business success by creating positive social impacts, minimising our environmental impacts and creating economic value," said Michaels.

"In some arenas, we are making good progress, in others - like cocoa sustainability - we have more work to do."

Communications is another component of Mars's strategy, and its Global Marketing Code prohibits practices including advertising to children under 12 years old, and only promotes responsible gum disposal and oral health in primary schools.

Similarly, the organisation has pledged to avoid using celebrity spokespeople for its products in a way that could "mislead" shoppers about the benefits of its brands.

Data sourced from Mars; additional content by Warc staff