Oreo Is One Smart Cookie

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Oreo might have turned 102 this year, but the beloved cookie brand's marketing is still nimble—and social—enough to take a bite out of the competition.

Sometimes it's OK to play with your food

Despite being a multibillion-dollar brand, Oreo is willing to experiment, especially with new social platforms. Last year Oreo noticed a trend among some consumers; they were using the cookie as an ingredient to create new dishes and recipes, and then sharing the results online.

For many big companies, relinquishing brand control would cause a case of the nervous sweats, but Oreo saw an opportunity to get involved with what its fans were already doing, and to give them “more creative freedom in creating new ways to enjoy the cookie,” Hajinlian says.

As part of Wonderfilled, the brand leveraged Twitter's Vine to create a series of six-second video “Snack Hacks”—branded #Oreosnackhacks—that demonstrate Oreo's versatility. In one, dubbed the “Party Dunk,” the middle row of a large plastic pack of Oreos is emptied and filled with milk, essentially creating the cookie and milk equivalent of chips and dip. In another, Oreo fills an ice tray with milk and crumbled cookie bits to create Oreo cookie ice cubes ideal for iced coffee.

Oreo then reached out to celebrity chefs and asked them to get in on the hacking fun in what became a series of viral videos featuring gourmet recipes for unexpected Oreo pairings, like chicken tenders made with golden Oreo cookies, Oreo tortilla chips, and even Oreo Shandy. All the hacks were eventually aggregated on Tumblr (oreo.tumblr.com), where fans could post their own user-generated hacks and view hack galleries.

“We're continually exploring and looking at new ways to keep Oreo fans excited and engaged through our social media platforms,” Hajinlian says. “We let conversation around the brand and what's happening in culture lead what platform we use to communicate.”

Oreo's presence on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter speaks to that, with content and dialogues that embrace the particular nature of each social platform. According to Hajinlian, the brand develops a unique content strategy for each that ladders up to its overall Wonderfilled brand strategy, but also leaves room for flexibility and spontaneous content. For example, Oreo jumped on National Haiku Poetry Day (April 17) with a series of funny #SnackHaikus, which in turn generated earned media from fans who wrote their own Oreo-inspired haikus, such as, “Remove creme filling / replace with peanut butter / watch my kids go nuts.”

“We take into account that in many cases, we're not just adding a new channel, but joining a new community,” Hajinlian says. “For Tumblr and Instagram especially, we publish content that fits with the community's tone and sense of humor, like GIFs or original photography that show the product in natural settings.”

Humor currently drives most of what Oreo does. For example, last Christmas The Martin Agency collaborated with rap artist JINX for “Cookie Balls,” a musical holiday-themed paean to reindeer and snowman cake pops, featuring lyrics such as, “I'm makin' something I'll be givin' all y'all; come Christmas mornin', you gon' taste some cookie balls.” The video has nearly 1.5 million views to date. As one user commented on YouTube: “Omg this is the first time I've searched an ad the song is so catchy!”

“For us, Wonderfilled is like a great big tent that can hold a variety of different creative ideas,” says The Martin Agency's Muhlenfeld. “It's been really nice working with Oreo because they're instinctively savvy.”

Not every century-old brand can say the same.

“We look to keep the brand fresh and exciting through new experiences we offer our fans, whether that's an engaging social activation, an unexpected new flavor, or new ways to use the cookie,” Hajinlian says. “With a 102-year history, the challenge we face is to keep evolving with the world over time while staying true and authentic to what people love about Oreo.”

And people clearly do love Oreo. According to social intelligence platform NetBase, Wonderfilled has garnered more than 28,000 mentions on Twitter since the campaign launched last year, resulting in over 138.6 million potential impressions. Social sentiment for the campaign has also been overwhelmingly favorable, with 96.9% of engagement on Twitter coming in positive.

13 Oreo cookies were consumed during the writing of this article.

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