MADNESS: Kraft’s Top Lawyer Says Let’s Rename The Company ‘Mondelez’

  • Publicprivate / Flickr, CCUPDATE: The guy who proposed the new name for Kraft’s international unit has resigned.

EARLIER: Kraft — the global food products company whose name dates back to a door-to-door cheese delivery company founded in 1909 called the J.L. Kraft and Bros. Co. — has changed the name of its international division to  “Mondelez” on the advice of its top lawyer.

This is an act of madness.

Most companies can only dream of owning a century of brand equity with the level of trust that comes with the Kraft name. Giant companies frequently stumble. Johnson & Johnson blotted its copybook with a series of Tylenol recalls and McDonald’s is often used as a byword for crass. But Kraft has sailed above the fray.

Its name is as comforting as its food.

No more, at least outside the U.S.

The company today said it was abandoning Kraft in favour of a made-up moniker:

“Mondelez” (pronounced mohn-dah-LEEZ’) is a newly coined word that evokes the idea of “delicious world.”  “Monde” derives from the Latin word for “world,” and “delez” is a fanciful expression of “delicious.” In addition, “International” captures the global nature of the business.

The company will continue to be called Kraft in the U.S. The international division will be split off into a separate entity. Kraft Foods had 2011 revenue of $54.4 billion from brands such as Cadbury, Maxwell House, Nabisco, Oreo, Tang and Trident.

The decision to abandon Kraft as a global brand came from two executives out of 1,700 employees who submitted suggestions to management. One of them is the company’s lawyer, according to BusinessWeek:

“[The idea came from] … Marc Firestone, Kraft’s general counsel and someone Mitchell describes as “a real renaissance man,” based at the company’s headquarters in Northfield, Ill.”

Among the rejected names were “Tfark” and “Snax.”

The first problem with the new name is that in Spanish it’s likely to be pronounced “Mohn-dah-layse,” BW says.

The second is that the final “e” carries a horizontal accent called a macron, which isn’t easy to type on Western keyboards. Kraft itself failed to reproduce the character in its official press release.

This isn’t an April fool. The company has reserved the MDLZ ticker symbol and is prepping a purple logo.