An Oreo By Any Other Name

Hey, another classic from The Onion!

That’s the first thing I thought of when I saw breaking news of what Kraft Foods plans to call its global snacks business after the company splits this year.

When I saw the news was legit, I thought, OK, then it’s being taken over by a Mexican company, right? Nope.

No folks, it’s for real. After an exhaustive process that involved input from its own employees around the world, the Northfield, Ill.-based food giant has settled on Mondelez International for its spun-off snacks business. Even more mind-boggling to me was that this bizarre moniker was suggested by not one, but two different employees working in different parts of the world.

My next thought was, whoever came up with this name just loves showing off how smart they are. In case you missed it, “mondelez” (pronounced mohn-dah-LEEZ) is a combination of “monde,” derived from the Latin for “world,” and “delez,” an expression (Spanish?) for delicious.

Really, Kraft? REALLY??!!?

Anyone over there know the Latin expression for “brand equity”?

The new separate grocery business is going to be called Kraft Foods Group. But apparently snacks are so esoteric that a simple, self-explanatory name like Kraft Snacks International would be just too easy for us common grocery-shopping Joe Nabiscos to understand.

Yes, I know the individual product brands aren’t going to change – Oreos will still be Oreos. But while Kraft will still be able to spell cheese K-R-A-F-T, most folks are probably not even going to be able to pronounce Mondelez correctly, let alone spell it. (Then there’s that blasted macron they put over the last “e” for the correct pronunciation that will make life more difficult for us journalists. Don’t bet on many of us using it.)

And according to The Huffington Post, “mondelez” sounds dangerously close to an obscure Russian word for oral sex, so just imagine the marketing opportunities in Eastern Europe.

In all seriousness, with a name like Kraft, with more than a century of brand equity among consumers and the grocery retailing community, why screw up a good thing? I think some folks put way too much thought into this, when adhering to the KISS method would be a far better course of action. By accounts I’ve read from branding experts, opinions on the new name range from “confusing” to “blunder.” And people quizzed in on-the-street interviews had no idea what “mondelez” meant, nor did they even identify it with a food company (I recall one person thought it was a lingerie store).

Kraft shareholders are scheduled to vote on the name change next month before it becomes official, so there’s still a chance for good sense to prevail. I'd wager that, for most folks, Kraft means "delicious world" more than Mondelez does.

Say “Kraft,” and people think quality, good taste, cheese, Oreos, yummy things. Say “Mondelez,” and they don’t have a clue.

Mondelez? No. Just … no.

Jim Dudlicek is senior editor of Progressive Grocer.

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