Case Study: Oreo’s 100th birthday celebrations with a twist

oreo_daily_twistIn 2012 Oreo was celebrating its 100th birthday and wanted to use the anniversary to rejuvenate the brand. As part of the centennial, the company launched the “Daily Twist” campaign, which some of the industry colleagues believe has “set a new standard for marketing in the digital age”.

Background

In 1912, the same year the South Pole was discovered, Oreo was first sold in Hoboken, NJ. Since then, it has become the world’s favourite cookie and the best-selling cookie brand of the 21st century. Oreo’s marketing campaigns always spoke to the target audience in a traditional way and the brand developed a very traditional image. Last year, celebrating its 100th birthday, Oreo wanted to rejuvenate it and as part of the centennial, the company launched an outstanding campaign called the “Daily Twist”.

Campaign

Oreo’s “Daily Twist” campaign – playing on the “twist, lick and dunk” ritual followed by many Oreo fans – offered a whimsical, humorous or eye-catching ad each day that reflected the latest happenings, pop culture news, milestones or celebrations taking place in the world. The artwork featured images of the iconic cookie and perhaps the usual Oreo sidekick – a glass of milk.

Oreo’s birthday mission was to “help everyone around the world celebrate the kid inside” and “Daily Twist” aimed to filter the world through the “playful imagination of Oreo”, Cindy Chen, director of marketing for Oreo at Kraft Foods, told Ad Age. The goal of the daily ads was “to show the world how relevant this brand is now,” Chen told the New York Times, by commenting on “real-time happenings”.

The campaign started on 25th June 2012 with a bold move – a polarising image of the cookie, stuffed with rainbow filling to celebrate Gay Pride Month. There was also a Shark Week Oreo, a Mars Rover Oreo and a tribute to panda Shin-Shin’s newborn cub – just a handful of 100 iterations that rolled out daily through to 2nd October. It then ended with a live campaign production conducted for all Times Square to see and for all the industry to see what a brand newsroom looks like.

Some might mistake “Daily Twist” as a print campaign, because at its heart are simple yet striking images. But Chen told Ad Age that it was ultimately a social and digital campaign to engage the brand’s growing fan base. There was a dedicated website – brands.nabisco.com/Oreo/dailytwist and a presence on Pinterest, Tumblr and Facebook. The chosen content was designed to spark conversation and sharing. “Consumption of media has shifted quite a bit to digital, social and mobile. To be on pace with that is really important for the brand to continue to grow; that ‘s why the Daily Twist program was born,” Chen emphasised to Ad Age.

This was a group effort from an integrated agency team consisting of DraftFCB New York, 360i, Weber Shandwick and MediaVest. DraftFCB creative director Megan Sheehan described the day-to-day work of the campaign to Ad Age. She said that although some cookie designs for “Twist” were predetermined, most of the work happened in real time. Every morning the team concentrated on “what’s trending and what’s right for Oreo”. And every day was production day, with photo shoots involving real Oreos. “We’ve shot cookies at every angle known to man – and a few new ones.” All this had to happen very quickly. As Chen told ABC News, many “Daily Twists” were turned around from concept to completion in as little as six or seven hours.

Results

The content created during this campaign was received very positively. As outlined on the Cannes Lions website, the campaign got 433 million Facebook views with +280% increase in shares, created 231 million media impressions, +2,600 media stories recognising the rejuvenation and making Oreo the brand with the highest buzz increase in 2012 (+49%). See an illustrative video of the campaign here. In the words of 360i, “By the end of the 100 days, Oreo became a living, breathing part of culture – and people looked at the brand in a completely new way.”

As Chen highlighted to ABC News, the campaign’s success was not only relying on headlines. “The biggest reach of one single post during the campaign was not the Pride, but the panda daily twist in honour of the birth of the Chinese panda Shin Shin’s baby. As a result of such strong global engagement the post’s reach was 4,409,344 — more than 21,000 higher than Pride.”

The success of the campaign has also been widely recognised across the industry. In total, it has received four Cannes Lions, three Clio, three Effie, one Facebook Studio and one Webby award. Based on 360i, some of the industry colleagues believe this campaign has “set a new standard for marketing in the digital age”.

Discussion

As highlighted by the New York Times, the campaign refers to the efforts by marketers and agencies to acknowledge the sped-up internal clocks of consumers, as new technologies have resulted in increased expectations of content delivered instantly. “Creating content in real time is not easy to do,” Chen told the New York Times. “But we’re happy to see that the content we’re creating has been found very relevant.”

“If you orchestrate around creative and content … and design the marketing structure in keeping pace with the way the world works, it’s a far more in-tune, dynamic, exciting media relationship and far better [positions] that brand to do better at everything,” Facebook’s director of global creative solutions and member of the 14-person Studio Awards judging panel Mark D’Arcy told Adweek. He thought the campaign was “the most high-profile example…of putting a newsroom environment at the heart of a brand’s thinking.”

Fellow judge Rob Feakins, chief creative officer and president at Publicis Kaplan Thaler, acknowledged the Oreo/360i/Draftfcb newsroom for the brand’s ability to notch more than 60,000 shares. “Yeah, it’s a brilliant piece of creative and [gay rights] was a hot topic during that time. But it’s a cookie. That’s cultural timing meets really smart creative,” he also told Adweek.

However, Adweek emphasises that being able to time creative to culture is tricky. Brands like Kenneth Cole have been burned by wading into too-hot waters, and many marketers must go through labyrinths of legal approval before publishing to their social channels. “You can’t have a conversation [with your social community] if you have to go through legal approval every time you talk to them,” Adweek was told by 360i president Sarah Hofstetter, whose team together with Oreo and Draftfcb hashed out guidelines before the campaign. “A combination of agency partners, brand stakeholders and legal agreed on a couple different directions to develop the image and copy,” she commented. “Our metaphor was operating like a newsroom, having qualities like a media company by constantly publishing, looking for different angles, holding edit meetings,” added Hofstetter, who used to be a New York Times Company employee.

“We cannot predict the future, but I can tell you that Oreo is committed to the fundamentals of what this campaign is all about — showing how a 100-year old cookie can stay relevant in today’s world by offering timely, interesting content that helps our communities to ‘celebrate their inner kid’,” Chen told ABC News.

Author: Maarja Gavronski

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2 Comments

  1. Moira Schafer

    10/24/2013

    I must congratulate you on the latest Oreo advert on TV with the little girl and her Dad. It is absolutely charming and I love it.

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