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How do you say Mondelēz?

Kraft Foods recently made a stunning announcement: “Kraft Foods Inc. today announced plans to change its corporate name to Mondelez International, Inc.” Say what?!

The Kraft name is more than 100 years old, taking its name from cheese maker James L. Kraft. Several generations of Americans have been nourished from a young age by Kraft Singles and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, making Kraft one of the most commonly known brands in the grocery store. Now they’re changing it to a long, unfamiliar, seemingly random word? Why?

The short answer is they needed a new name for business reasons, so they made one up out of pieces of other words. Here’s the explanation from a Kraft press release:

“As previously announced, Kraft Foods is dividing to create two industry-leading public companies before the end of 2012: a high-growth global snacks business and a high-margin North American grocery business. The North American grocery company will become Kraft Foods Group, Inc., retaining the Kraft brand for its corporate identity and as the brand for many of its consumer products. As a result, the global snacks company will require a new name when it launches later this year.”

There’s also this explanation of the name, and helpful advice about how to pronounce it:

‘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.

So if you can’t remember, just think of rice–as in, Condoleezza. “Mondelez” rhymes with the first 3 syllables of “Condoleezza.”

Quoted in the press release praising the new name are Kraft execs Irene Rosenfeld (Chairman and CEO) and Mary Beth West (Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer).

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Reaction online was predictably cruel. “This is an act of madness,” wrote Jim Edwards on Business Insider. “Delēz is a meaningless word with a superfluous diacritic that sort of sounds like how you might say ‘delicious’ if you were very drunk and very sleepy,” wrote Caity Weaver on Gawker. “I do not think that Kraft is going to be getting an outpouring of praise for cooking up this new creation,” wrote Jess Collen on Forbes.

Fine. It’s kind of a lame name. But keep in mind that most consumers will never notice the change, since the name Kraft will still appear on your groceries. Also remember how strange it was the first time you saw the names some of the brands we now consider commonplace: Verizon, Acela, Altria, Viagra… You’ll get used to Mondelēz.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Marketing, Words

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