Masterfoods Un-Rebrands as Mars

30 May 2006

Shakespeare was wrong!

'What's in a name?' wrote the Bard. 'That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.'

Not in the vicinity of Hackettstown, New Jersey, it wouldn't! As the US global snacks, food and petfood giant learned to its chagrin - and cost.

In a classic example of what happens when a marketer can't leave well alone, the self-styled 'world's largest small family business' decided five years ago to switch from its corporate moniker of Mars to Masterfoods North America.

This, the back-office gurus assured, would leverage the company's three disparate businesses, collectively valued at around $18 billion, into a single, centralized and more powerful umbrella brand.

However, it was not long before disenchantment began to set in. The centralization slowed down innovation and decision-making, leading the company last fall to return power on everything from marketing to manufacturing to its three discrete business unit presidents.

The corporate resurrection this month of the Mars family name is the final stage of one of the biggest US business U-turns in recent years.

According to one company insider, ceo Paul Michaels now acknowledges that the company "lost its way in the last few years and forgot who it was, stuck between being centralized and decentralized."

Another senior executive was less diplomatic, dubbing the makeover a "cockamamie bringing together of three disparate businesses that have nothing to do with one another".

Data sourced from AdAge (USA); additional content by WARC staff