The marketing team uses Facebook to deliver news about the brand and to generate excitement. While Dove Ice Cream has its own website and Facebook page, Snickers, Milky Way, M&M’S and Twix ice cream products piggyback off the brands’ efforts. Dove Ice Cream for example, had nearly 70,000 likes in January, and Dove Chocolate had 462,000 likes. By comparison, M&M’S had 2.7 million likes.

Mars considers itself to be a collaborative company and an adherent to the concept of Open Innovation. It will look anywhere for great ideas, and found one in, of all places, the appliance manufacturing industry. Mars patented a chocolate enrobing technique based on a powder-coating application. The ice cream division looked at its candy-making cousins and built its ice cream bar line based on production techniques used in candy manufacturing. Mars also collaborates with outside businesses. It holds ideation sessions with vendors as well as with its counterparts at Wrigley, which Mars acquired in 2008. Wrigley operates a global innovation center in Chicago.

The organization Great Place to Work ranked Mars Inc. 19th in its World’s Best Multinational Workplaces list. The organization cited Mars for its:

  • Employee communication efforts, including regularly scheduled town hall meetings, site involvement teams and suggestion boxes
  • An ombudsman program at local sites to help employees address work-related issues in a confidential setting
  • A culture that facilitates collaboration and a sense of communication. Mars’ open door policy intends to break down barriers and make everyone at every level (from the CEO on down) more approachable

Additionally, Mars Inc. was recognized for having a high percentage of women in executive and senior management positions (27% globally) and a low employee turnover rate (8% globally).

Locating the corporate office in the production facility promotes communication among employees and helps to break down departmental silos. As production workers enter the plant, they see photos of sales reps and the accounts each serves. That reinforces the notion that the job of any employee affects that of another.

The open office environment encourages interaction between marketing, procurement, sales and other departments. Mars is a user of in-house Wiki pages to share information during product development. The Wikis are a repository of information that team members access and update. The pages are particularly helpful in conducting reviews of completed projects (including both those that succeeded and failed, or stalled).

Looking ahead

With expertise in turning candy bars into ice cream products, it’s natural to wonder how Mars could extend certain Wrigley brands into frozen novelties. A frozen yogurt, sorbet or fruit bar incorporating the fruit flavors of Starburst candies is one possibility, Hall says.

If one were to do a “cutting” on the company’s history, one would find that last summer’s adults-only ice cream truck was a sly nod to the Dove brand’s roots. One story has Dove founder Leo Stefanos despair of seeing children flee his candy store whenever they heard the tinkling bells of a roving ice cream truck. Another version has it that Stefanos was concerned for his son’s safety running after the truck. Either way, the chocolatier began making ice cream (Dovebar Ice Cream) to keep the customers in the store.

Today, Mars’ ice cream aims to drive consumers to retailers’ ice cream aisles. The company continues to find ways to keep consumers engaged with the brand, whether through promotions, product development or brand extensions. By no measure has the company exhausted its catalog of brands. There will be more novelties to come.  DF