TFAR Podcast Transcript – Episode with Aidaly Sosa, Head of Marketing U.S. at Tony’s Chocolonely

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Episode hosted by: Paul Frampton, Global President at CvE.

Hi, thank you, Paul How are you?

I’m doing great. Thank you so much for having me here. I look forward to speaking to you.

Yeah, the thing I would like to reset, I would say, is the abundance of media, that media buy and spaces where media buy is conducted right now that is coming towards you as a consumer. I’m taking my marketing professional hat off and just looking at it from a consumer lens and just the amount of advertising coming your way at every corner and on every platform.

I think it’s a lot and I would love to reset that and for us to focus on messages that do matter and messages that have more impact and more meaning and that can mean something to the consumer instead of this overload of everything everywhere. I’d like to thank all of you for your participation. I think it is getting, I think it is getting worse.

I mean in the main vehicles of media it was always there. But I think at this moment it is getting worse because we’re so much more dependent on our phones or any way of just like our digital presence in our daily lives that we get like, like it’s bombarded with it a little bit more. I’ll give you an example.

If you put like an address in Waze and you’re driving, then in the middle of my drive I get a pop-up.

Hey, have you seen a Dunkin Donuts?

And I’m like, I don’t care about Dunkin Donuts right now. I just want to get where I want to get. And it’s a pop-up screen. I need to close it. And so it’s kind of like disruptive in not such a good time or a good way that I want to be disrupted. Yeah.

Yeah, I think if I, if I look at it from that sense, it’s also, oh wait, they’re driving.

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Do you want to make a pit stop at Dunkin Donuts and get a coffee?

Yeah, that sounds amazing. But then when you’re, when you’re actually driving, it’s kind of like, oh no, I just want to get from point A to point, to point B. I don’t want to be dealing with this right now.

Yeah, exactly. And I think the original forms of advertising, whether it be like TV or the radio, it was more kind of, or at least because that’s how we know it. It just feels like more in this, in that moment where you’re sitting down and where you’re listening, that you’re like consuming this media as well.

The other reason why I think a reset is worth on media, on advertising in general is that I feel like that has, in marketing, has become the answer to everything. And I think working for a company that is so focused on the mission, Donis has one mission. It is eliminating exploitation out of the cocoa industry.

In the cocoa industry right now, you have a lot of cases of modern day slavery, a lot of child labor, or farmers that just don’t make enough to be able to earn a living wage once they sell their crop of beans. So coming from a company that has, is hard, very set on its mission.

I think when you’re speaking to like advertising agencies or to other agencies for support, I think media buy is very quickly the answer to kind of like send your message across.

And I think it’s worth for us to think a little deeper in terms of the mission of what we’re doing, the purpose in our North Star, to kind of look at things differently and think of more creatively and not jumping to that, you know, that one to the pay for play, or to the pay for being noticed, but paying more attention to the content that we put into everything we do as a business.

Okay. I think the, so I think you have different, the different companies I’ve worked at, they also had like, for example, G-Star had a very, very, they were very serious about sustainability. And they had like a very, like a very advanced team that worked into like just thinking about sustainable materials that could go into the product.

And I think that’s where I started kind of leaning more into like the purpose, the purpose led product or the purpose led services or the purpose, purpose led offering that you’re giving to consumers. So I think a lot of companies have that embedded in them. I think a lot of companies don’t dare to speak too much about it if it’s new or if they’re starting fresh, because they’re afraid of criticism.

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And I think the difference with the, with Tony’s is that the company was really, that’s the company was founded in order to combat exploitation in the cocoa industry. So that was the sole purpose. It was started by these journalists that just went to West Africa and really firsthand, they were doing some investigative journalism and firsthand experience cases of child labor, cases of modern day slavery.

So they went back and they had like a show that this was reported on. And based on that, the journalist, like they were shocked that nothing was being done. So to make the long story short, they started Tony’s to really prove that you can have traceable beans in your chocolate and you can have a chocolate that is your, like your entire supply chain.

Your entire supply chain is feasible and you can be held accountable for what happens in your supply chain because you know for sure that you know what’s happening, which is the opposite of what other brands say is that they don’t know what happens in their supply chain. And so they kind of like hide a little bit behind that.

So I think, I think, I think that really helps in terms of just if you have that north star that it’s very easy to, or easier to really know your purpose and really be very disciplined about communicating around your, your purpose and how you communicate around your purpose. And also that everything that you do within the company is feeding into this bigger purpose.

So it’s not about having a campaign that is like on one, on one collection or one drop or a few like a special SKU that you’re dropping for one specific messaging but everything is embedded in like your core story of the brand. Yeah. Yeah. I think for. So for us it’s in a way, embedded in our product.

So if you look at our chocolate bar we have like a, like a bigger chunkier chocolate bar, and on the chocolate on the branding within the branding we have Tony’s chocolate only and we have a button, our open chain button, you can read our mission there. When you turn the chocolate. When you look on the back of pack.

There’s our mission statement there as well that we exist to eliminate child labor modern day slavery out of the cocoa industry.

And then when you open up the package inside of the wrapper we have our full manifesto that again tells the story a little bit more in depth so that’s kind of like our, that’s the first thing that a consumer sees that they touch so that already helps us deliver part of the message.

And then when you open our chocolate bar, unlike other brands, our chocolate bar is unequally divided, and there’s a story behind that, that as well that our chocolate bar is unequally divided to represent the unequally divided cocoa industry.

So, every aspect of the product tells a part of the story so I have to say that our, our design and product development team very early on in the foundation of the brand made sure that this was very clear so, so that helps.

Next to that we, when we do campaigns we always make sure that it ladders up to our big mission, but we also not afraid to like tell our story, so we do a lot of talks.

And then when we do our team when you, when you’re on board it as a marketing professional at Tony’s, it is expected from you that you do a lot of public speaking that you do a lot of, you know, whether it’s at the university in front of a marketing class or whether it’s at a TED talk which we’ve done quite a few.

It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s expected that you that you do this.

And, yes. We all tell the story and for each of our partners that retailers that buy the product we make sure that, you know, we work on the education of their staff as well.

And next to that we make sure that when we do media advertising that it’s very, it’s mission led as well, that we do that we’re very selective when we do it so it’s not a matter of, okay, we’re going to do this, like, every three months or something like that we make sure that okay what are the developments that have happened. What are the contributions that we’ve had.

What is a story that we have to tell and based on that decide okay these are the vehicles that we can use to tell this to tell the story instead of being like, oh we need to do a flight of media advertising, every three months, what do we have to fill it in with. Okay. So we just started.

So last year is the first time that we did media by in, in the US in the, in the 10 to 15 years that a brand has been in the US so it was the first time.

Yeah, yeah, so it’s, it’s the first time that we did it, which was, we were like okay this is a, and we did it in Europe as well but we realized that we could use more platform or more way to tell our story especially for introducing the brand to like a new market, it is very helpful to, to introduce ourselves through paid media, and what we realized is that we’ve been speaking to different agencies in different countries and the agencies have like a very refreshing.

We are like a breath of fresh air when for them because they’re like, this is unconventional.

This is really like, I think, like agencies have a lot of talented creatives that sometimes wish they could just like, you know, not living according the color between the lines and just have that freedom to really say what’s on their mind and not hold themselves back, and I think that the agencies at least that we’ve worked with so far that we’ve been speaking to so far have expressed that a lot that they’re like, oh wait we can really like, be a little bit more provocative in our messaging because you guys have like that cheeky, that cheeky tone of voice and you guys.

You guys don’t, you guys are not afraid to rough up some feathers so in our experience, it’s been, it’s been nice and they’ve, the way that they’ve taken it on is the, the ones we’ve spoken to the complete opposite of transactional.

They’ve all seen it as, oh my god, we have a brand that stands for that has like a very serious mission and they love working with a mission led company and especially a company that that is a little bit more provocative in their, in their, in their messaging so it’s been great so far.

And I Yeah, and I think with brands you have a lot of like I said in the beginning you have a lot of brands that want to pivot and have like more like start really thinking about their mission and their impact and they want to communicate about that and sometimes is seen as like greenwashing or something else so I think for agencies is also good to like work with some mission impact companies to really get that experience on the messaging so that they can advise brands that are a little bit more shy and a little bit more hesitant to communicate about their missions to like guide them into formulating that that message to do bring it across because I think some, some brands do a lot when it comes to like sustainability and, but it’s all like in under the surface so people don’t see it but they’re so shy to communicate about it so I think I would like to see that more for, you know, the reason.

Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. So that’s why our mission is also that together we can make the cocoa industry exploitation free just to indicate that it takes more than us as as a brand, but it just it really takes an entire industry but it takes like the consumers, the it takes the journalist it takes like all of us to make changes and I think that really counts for for basically everything. Yeah.

I think that is marketing extremely important in those conversations because I think marketing can also make clear this distinction between this is just like work that we’re supposed to be doing right now this is like the status quo of nowadays that you need to live up to the standard and marketing can also recognize what from that is really innovative and what of that is really going to inspire others to, to, to change and inspire others to do something similar so I think that marketing can recognize that and marketing can really advise into how to bring these messages, bring these messages forward because you have a lot of times that that sometimes if the right people are not around the table to formulate these campaigns or to formulate these, these missions that they fall short in the eyes of the consumer because the consumer has become so much more critical.

So I, and I think the role of marketing has become far more broad in the sense that it’s, it’s like a little bit of your corporate responsibility that also marketing can also support and shine a light, shine a light on that to make sure that things don’t come across as greenwashing and that the changes are really like innovations really like accelerating what needs to be done for us to, to get to a better purpose, better planet, better business, businesses.

Thank you.

Yeah, so for us, that’s extremely important. If we want to, Tony’s mission is to educate people on these issues and inspire people to like, act on them.

And I think the way to inspire businesses to act on them is to really show that you, you can have traceable beings and you can have a very transparent supply chain and you can be open and honest and you can be working with local farmers to resolve like cases of child labor, but you can also be a for-profit business.

I think our whole business model is to have both to really inspire others to act and to not have the lack of profit be a reason for them not to act. So for that to eliminate, to eliminate that dilemma completely. That too. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you so much.

I think, I think if you look at brands like Patagonia, it’s also like a good example of, you know, a company that has like a very clear North Star and makes decision very much based on that, but it’s also like, you know, they’re, they’re like balancing the two things. Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah, of course. And it’s like you said, we’re all like a work in progress and there’s, there’s definitely like, you know, what people see on the, on the outside, the, the, what comes out of the, on the outside of the things you’ve done, but there’s internally, there’s, there’s, you know, battles that we have as well.

So you, sometimes you win some, you lose some, but it’s, I think it’s important to keep in mind like your bigger, your bigger purpose. And I think Tony’s as a company is a company where we, we encourage everyone to be outspoken. So it’s really a company where you are allowed to express if you don’t agree and it is listened to.

I think the advice that I can give is to really like stand for something and be, be vocal about it in a constructive way. And don’t let down, don’t go beyond the level that you’re comfortable with because they won’t feel, it won’t feel good to just like stick with it and keep like pushing for it.

Just like I said, in a constructive way, because a lot of the times you come out with a, with a compromise and a lot of times you see that, you know, after a long time of really bringing it up and flagging it and, and really being determined about it, you do start seeing more change. Absolutely. Yeah.

Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s on one hand, it’s good to be disruptive and abrupt and kind of like have these, these, these very strong moments. But on the other hand, I think like if you’re working for a company that has been around for 50 years, I think looking at progress with a positive, with a positive lens is very important because some companies don’t, it like, it takes a little bit.

You know, if you’re like in a small sailboat, you can like it move very easily. But if you’re like a much, much larger boat, it takes the turn, just takes a while. And I think the advice that I can give is to appreciate the progress, but be also critical about the progress, but critical and realistic about the progress within, within that company.

And don’t, don’t be discouraged by small steps because it takes every, every step to get there. At Tony’s we have the luxury of, you know, having taken bigger steps and having the, being able to take those. So if a company, if everyone can get there, that’s brilliant.

But I also think that realistically some major titanics will have to start smaller and then really look at the progress, appreciate it, but also be critical about it and continue it at a steady pace. Yeah.

Yeah, yeah.

Yeah, but the critical mind is also like important in that, in that, in that mix. If you feel like it’s not enough, if you feel like it’s being hypocritical, also like, you know, you know, you’re not going to be able to do that. But if you feel like it’s not enough, if you feel like it’s being hypocritical, also like, I think that should be addressed as well. Yeah. Thank you so much.

Thank you so much for having me. And I hope I inspired a few to really like go and try to do more business for good and have more of an impact in what they do. Thank you. Thank you so much.

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