Sessions with Xavier Mitjavila Moix: “Innovation and Advertising are at the heart of all future growth”

Xavier Mitjavila, former Danone Marketing Director in Portugal, Italy, France and Spain, held last week a 3 days session with the students of Master in Global Communication, Leadership and Corporate Diplomacy, discussing about Innovation and Advertising and which are the rules and models to follow if you want to succeed.

Mitjavila took advantage of his experience in the Fresh Dairy company in order to share which was the Model they used for a long period of time with success and what he proposes nowadays.

Current world is crowded and highly competitive. Nobody is waiting for your next product launch and nobody will do a minimal effort to be informed about what, when and how you are going to launch. At the same time, success rate has been rapidly decreasing for the last years. Actually, 75% of New Product Developments launched into the marketplace do not exist 12 months after launch. 90% do not exist 24 months after launch. However, breakthrough innovation is key to survive in the current environment where Private Labels copy and paste, very quickly, all branded innovations in a record time.

Thus, it is clear that innovation and advertising are key for future growth.

On Day 1, Mitjavila shared with the team the story of one of the more tragic accidents in Everest. Back in 1996, Jon Krakauer and other climbers were attacking the summit of mount Everest and gave themselves one only rule: “If at 2 pm we are not in the summit, we need to stop climbing and go down again to reach Camp 3 before the sunset”. That was the one and only rule they had. And the one they did not respect. First climber to reach the summit did it after 3 pm and, at that time, the rest were still climbing upwards… What happened later is now very well known. An unexpected storm arrived very rapidly and most of the climbers were caught with no visibility, high winds an extreme cold temperatures… Almost none of them reached Camp 3 and died in that night.

Mitjavila used this story, written in Krakauer’s book “Into Thin Air”, to share with students that rules are very clear when companies launch new products, as it was clear the rule to go back at 2 pm if summit was not reached in the Everest story. In the case of new launches, you need to reach a specific volume, market share, profitability, etc… during the first 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. It is a very simple rule.

Then, in reality, it is not so simple to respect those rules. Teams have been working hard and are emotionally link to that new product or new brand and instead of taking decisions with the brain, they can often take those decisions also or mainly with their hearts. This way, products that must be delisted when not reaching targets during the very first months after launch, are given a second chance with extra investment just because “we did work really hard to launch it… it deserves a second opportunity…”

Mitjavila show several examples in which KPI’s were very clear upfront and companies did not stop those launches in due time. Results afterwards were very clear. Instead of limiting the financial loss stopping when needed, they lost much more money and finally delisted anyway those launches.

Learning for students was to strictly act with the brain and not with the heart in this occasions.

Day 2 was spent discussing about innovation, taking as examples the ones of Apple, Netflix, Tesla, Airbnb, Amazon or even Uber. Quite radical and disruptive ones. At the same time, other cases with a simpler innovation model (copy, paste and improve) were also shared. In this second category we found cases like Activia (that improved a French yogurt called BA and then expanded internationally), Actimel (improving a Japanese product called Yakult and launched at worldwide level) and finally Danacol (that also improved a Fresh Product that first launched Unilever called Pro-Activ).

Both methods being successful, Mitjavila focused the second part of that day talking about how successful companies track Macro Trends, Consumers Trends, Competition and its own Ecosystem in order to find the best ideas to be developed and launched.

Finally, a new concept was introduced. The need to perfectly manage Mental Availability and Physical Availability in order to succeed in the marketplace after a launch.

On Day 3, focus was given to Mental Availability and how companies can win the battle for consumers brain. The cases of Nike, Adidas, Volvo and Fujitsu were shared as good examples to take inspiration from, and a very complete Advertising Model was shared with all students. Applying that Model, they will be able to analyse different Creative Proposals and decide wether they can be accepted, produced and send on air or, on the contrary, they need to be reworked because “out of briefing”.

This 3 Days Session will end now with an Assignment, in which all students will need to work on the Advertising analysis of LG Air Conditioning system, Alfa Romeo and Danone Greek Yogurt.

A good expert

Mitjavila started his professional career in Danone where he reached the Marketing Direction in several European countries. After this period, took the lead of Danone Italy as General Manager. Thus, Mitjavila spent a long period of this professional life in the Dairy company before reaching JDE back in April 2013.

Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE) is a pure play coffee and tea company with very well known brands in Spain, like Marcilla, Saimaza, L’Or or Hornimans. Within JDE he was first General Manager in Spain, then General Manager for Southern Europe and finally General Manager in France.