I am so pumped that Dana Anderson is speaking at the Forrester 2011 Marketing Forum in early April. Dana is Kraft Foods’ Senior Vice President of Marketing, Strategy, and Communications, and she’s one smart lady. She works across the Kraft portfolio to bring fresh marketing ideas and innovation to icons like Oreo and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Dana also has a wicked sense of humor. Her keynote “The Bad Boys’ Guide To Digital Bliss” will illustrate what marketers can learn from Robert Downey Jr. and Jay-Z – not your usual marketing role models!

I asked Dana a few questions on how to drive digital change in a traditional organization. Her answers point to both the fundamental shifts that will characterize the next decade and the perennial truths of marketing (great ideas start with great teams). We hope you can make it to San Francisco to hear more . . .

CO: What are the biggest changes that marketers should expect in the next digital decade?

DA: Whew, 10 years is a long time in the digital world. Facebook is only seven years old and Hulu is only four years old. While I wish I could predict how things would be in 2021, I can tell you the hints I’m seeing right now that foretell a very exciting future for marketing. 

On both client and agency sides, new jobs are being created that recognize the importance of both technology and creativity simultaneously.  So, as these left and right brains are thankfully mashed together in a singular role, job titles such as “creative technologist,” “marketing engineer,” and “information architect” are beginning to appear on org charts. We are looking at creativity and technology in the same glance instead of sequentially and that is tempting indeed. My bet is that these early “buds” will flower in surprising work and productive, new ways of conversing with our consumers and customers. 

Now, combine that with the conversations happening all over the place about the growth of abductive reasoning — or said in other words, the growing value of the creative leap. Daniel Pink, Roger Martin, and Marty Neumeir are all writing about this shift from the informational age to the conceptual age.  It is so exhilarating to me, and if we all play our cards right, this next era of marketing could be our own Cambrian era.

So, how we think and work might be changing?  Know what doesn’t ever change? A great idea is a great idea is a great idea. Thank heaven.

CO: Which of Kraft’s marketing innovations are you most proud?

DA: The one that took guts. The one that had a fearless champion. The one that made us laugh and went on to make our consumers laugh. The one that didn’t pan out but someone had the courage to try and fail. The one that mashed our right and left brains together. The one that taught us that the conversation is ever-present so you need to BE ever-diligent.  

And, it must be said, those who cheered us on from the sidelines and the boardrooms are so valued. It cannot be overstated, our executive management’s commitment to great marketing is THE reason we are able to make the progress we have made. Absolutely essential. 

CO: If you were given a high-stakes poker chip, then which emerging media would get your bet?

DA: The bet I’m willing to place is on our folks. Working with their creative and media partners, I’m putting my money on them every time. These brave teams have elevated the work and are showing all of us how it can move their businesses. They are the real heroes of our story and, as such, get my big fat poker chip.

CO: What’s the biggest mistake that a marketer can make when approaching digital?

DA: To look for a girdle when what you really need is a pair of wings. Throw away the rule book. Experiment, learn, try, fall, get up, discover, have fun, be puzzled, find your way out again, thrive, and be humbled by the whole, miraculous vantage point.