Nestle talks collaboration and innovation at the Ad Age Digital Conference

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Nestle has clearly embraced the idea that collaboration is the new currency.

Apr. 02, 2014 | by Katie Lamkin

The recurring theme for Day One of the Ad Age Digital Conference New York was one that closely aligns with iCrossing’s newly-launched iCrossing Collaboratory: collaboration can lead to break-through ideas. In Nestle’s keynote session, Path to Innovation: How Nestle Brings Startups in the Marketing Mix, Peter Blackshaw, global head, digital and social media, and Mark Brodeur, global head, digital marketing innovation, discussed how Nestle has embraced a culture of collaboration and reaped exciting rewards as a result.

Nestle, a global food and beverage company, will celebrate its 150th anniversary this year. A company that has been around for over a century is not usually synonymous with innovation. But after what the speakers called a “teachable moment” in 2010, when the company came under attack by Greenpeace over a supply chain issue where Nestle responded inadequately, the company began to rethink its approach to digital marketing and creativity. This began a concentrated focus on innovation, both internally and externally.

In addition to implementing several internal initiatives to champion and foster innovation with its employees, Nestle began to look for external partners that could empower its creativity in the marketplace. Although headquartered in Switzerland, Nestle opened up their Silicon Valley Innovation Outpost in California. This unit of the company began working with small start-ups who are experts in their respective spaces with the goal of bringing new products, ideas and strategies to life for Nestle. The Outpost has hosted several hack-a-thons, brand labs and other creative approaches to problem-solving that has led to new thinking around Nestle’s real world business challenges.

Another great example of innovative collaboration is Nestle’s partnership with Google Android. Through a first-of-its-kind cross promotion (where no money exchanged hands) in September 2013, Google named its latest operating system KitKat, after Nestle’s candy bar brand. When the operating system went live, Nestle released a limited edition KitKat bar with Android-decorated packaging. The collaboration was a huge success for both brands, and wouldn’t have been possible without a creative approach to marketing through collaboration.


Nestle has clearly embraced the idea that collaboration is the new currency. Projects like the Android KitKat wouldn’t have been possible through traditional paid advertising, yet it delivered outstanding exposure and value for the brands. At the iCrossing Collaboratory, we believe collaboration, co-creation and innovation are principles all brands should embrace. As Nestle knows, developing new, strategic partnerships and sharing ideas can deliver exciting, breakthrough moments for brands.

— Katie Lamkin, PR Director, iCrossing

~ Curated by The Marketing Curator and TME Pass The Idea (



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