There has been a complete shift in the way Mars' brands approach marketing ever since the Mars Marketing Code came into action 10 years ago.
Maltesers, for example, has tried to break down taboos around disability, while M&M's has broached the subject of infidelity. It would seem to appear that the strategy is paying off. For instance, Maltesers' 'Look on the Light Side of Disability' campaign, which featured disabled people discussing awkward encounters, led to an 8 per cent boost and was its most successful in more than 10 years.
Apart from not targeting children under 12, Mars also looks to provide parents with information to make informed decisions about their children's diet choices; is transparent about compliance both internally and externally; keeps track of competitors' codes and marketing to ensure it is in line or exceeding industry standards; and reviews and updates the code every three years.
To ensure that Mars' employees are following standards, the company has a driving-licence-test kind of test to judge the former's awareness. Of the 20 questions that an employee needs to answer, getting more than two wrong means failure.