Return to Mars

Masterfoods reverting to better-known name

HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. -- Masterfoods USA is reversing itself on the five-year-old name intended to leverage the company's $18 billion in disparate businesses under a single umbrella brand, reported

Five years ago, Mars changed its corporate name to Masterfoods North America and began centralizing its three top divisions. It's now dropping the Masterfoods name and once again decentralizing its divisions, said the report.

The name change is the final step in the decentralization begun last October of Mars' top three U.S. [image-nocss] divisionssnacks, food and pet foodand a return to the better-known and far-less-confusing Mars family name preferred by retailers and consumers, AdAge said.

Back in 2000, when Masterfoods North America President Bob Gamgort was vice president and general manager of chocolate for Mars and CEO Paul Michaels was president, the grand plan was to unite the distinct divisions called, respectively, M&M/Mars, Uncle Ben's and Mars Pet Food. Although initially intended to drive efficiencies and cut costs, the idea of shared resources reportedly has proven to be ineffective.

According to the report, the centralization slowed down innovation, leading Mars to return decision-making power on everything from marketing to manufacturing to its business unit presidents last fall.

The name change is end of the bringing together of three disparate businesses that have nothing to do with one another," according to an executive close to Mars. The executive said that Michaels acknowledged recently that the company was stuck between being centralized and decentralized."

The move from Masterfoods, however, isn't expected to be noticed by retailers or consumers except in packaging, who really didn't notice the move to Masterfoods. "I continued to think of them as Mars," said an East Coast grocery executive, one of the many retailers the Masterfoods plan was supposed to benefit. "In meetings, our top executives would always say, 'Who the hell is Masterfoods?' They still call them M&M's."