LONDON: Brand safety has been high on the agenda for marketers over recent years and Mars, the US confectionery and food group, deals with the issue by strictly enforcing its own marketing code of conduct.

Reviewed and updated every three years, the latest iteration of the Mars Marketing Code includes guidance about the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), but at its core is a pledge not to market to children under 12-years-old and to provide parents with the information they need to take decisions about their children’s diet.

Jacqui Stephenson, global responsible marketing director at Mars who has overseen the code for the past seven years, shared more detail about the company’s approach in an interview with Marketing Week.

“We see this as a very important area for Mars, because it’s one thing to have a policy and another thing to deploy it, operationalise it and actually show the world that you’re living by your commitments,” she said.

“Given all the brand safety issues that have been presented over the past 18 months, it’s even more important to show there are procedures in place and that you’re measuring them as well.”

She explained that Mars carries out regular internal monitoring as well as conducting an annual audit that is carried out by a third-party, with the results of both shared internally and externally.

There are 24 measures that are tracked every quarter and the company also works with its media planning agencies around the world to make sure it delivers on its commitment not to market to children aged under 12.

“If marketers know we will be externally validating and communicating our results, it certainly provides a comprehensive review of their performance. We make sure we share our results with the markets and that we mediate and learn from those results,” she said.

And it is not just external partners who are expected to meet these demands because all Mars employees across marketing, corporate affairs and sales are required to complete an annual test to ensure they are up to speed with the code.

“Making this stand means, from a marketing perspective, our business has taken a different direction to other companies,” Stephenson said. “We absolutely see the benefit of driving universal brands, not just brands that appeal to children.”

Sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by WARC staff