Controversy Surrounds Food Giant Kraft’s New Name

Posted on May 22, 2012


It’s derived from Latin, it’s hard to pronounce, and it sounds similar to a vulgar expression in Russian—Kraft Food’s new global snack business is to be named “Mondelez” (pronounced mon-dah-LEEZ).  Such an unusual name is sure to kick up controversy, as evidenced by the recent New York Post article, “MONDEWHAAAAT?”  The name, an interpretation of a mash-up of the Latin words for “world” and “delicious,” was announced back in March.  This Wednesday, Kraft shareholders will decide whether to approve the name for the company’s business that sells global snack brands such as Oreos, Fig Newton and Cadbury.

The four-month journey of how “Mondelez” was picked — and how it was received — illustrates the great pains companies take to come up with powerful names for their businesses, products and services. For them, it’s akin to parents obsessing over a name for their newborn: it’s a moniker that sticks for better or worse, so it better be good.  “You have to generate thousands of ideas, even if it’s just for a cookie,” said Nik Contis, the global director of naming at branding company Siegel+Gale.  The decision to rename was a result of Kraft deciding to split into two different publicly traded companies: one for its North American grocery business that makes products like Oscar Mayer and Miracle Whip, and the other focusing on selling snacks worldwide.

The naming process for Kraft’s worldwide snack business was held back in November, in which it solicited suggestions from its 126,000 employees.  More than 1,700 names were submitted by more than 1,000 employees.

The names went through two rounds of testing with native speakers in 28 different languages. Consumers in small focus groups were asked again and again if any of the names conjured up negative associations. “Mondelez,” a favorite among Kraft executives from the get-go, didn’t raise any big red flags.  If shareholders reject the name on Wednesday, the company will continue to be called “Kraft Foods Inc.” while the North American grocery business will be called “Kraft Foods Group Inc.”

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Posted in: Business