Brainfood: Speaking Out - Todd Stitzer, CEO, Cadbury Schweppes

At a recent business summit, US lawyer-turned-CEO Todd Stitzer was quick to launch us into a four-minute video of the life and times of Cadbury Schweppes. Some of the audience found the music cheesy, but it set the scene for Stitzer, who offered insights into what makes his brands some of the most powerful in the world, in a carefully crafted, scripted speech. Although his style is a little buttoned-up, he was eager to share real ideas.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

He imparted genuine 'news you can use' and gave practical management insights into how the company had reorganised around its brands to drive efficiencies and bring variety to the consumer through techniques such as master branding.

Stitzer's notions were simple, but everyone knew what he was driving at. There was humour too, with examples of advertising gaffs such as the way in which a British vacuum cleaner company tried to take America by storm with the slogan 'Nothing sucks like an Electrolux'.

A sneak preview of the 2005 TV ads planned for Dr Pepper in the US added piquancy for the audience - he showed visuals that up to now had been shared only with Cadbury senior executives. It was disappointing that Stitzer failed to mention the recent chocolate versus obesity campaign, but you got the feeling that he and his management team are as bought into the corporate Cadbury values as the founders were 200 years ago.

Key moment: The revelation that in a stand against slavery, Cadbury pulled out of Sao Tome in 1890 in favour of the Gold Coast.

Key lesson: Well-crafted, scripted presentations can work, but only if the speaker is truly across the material and well rehearsed.

Silver tongue or foot in mouth? ...

Khalid Aziz, a visiting professor of business communications at Southampton University, chairs the Aziz Corporation -

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