Image  Marking its 100-year anniversary on March 6, the Oreo cookie has come a long way from simply dipping it in milk.  For Latinos, the time-honored ritual of separating the chocolate wafers to savor and share the ersatz “cream” with a loved one represents a classic Oreo Moment: “True love is sharing your Oreo cookies with someone.” 

In reading the many Spanish posts on the emotional association consumers have with the iconic cookie, wherein I began to experience something similar to a Hallmark Moment— I realized that like its fellow recession-era greeting card giant, the Oreo brand also shares a global bond.  

To celebrate the centennial of the Oreo cookie, Kraft Foods—simultaneously celebrating its own 75th anniversary— has rolled out a 15-country ad campaign spinning the global take on the cookie’s “twist-lick-dunk” tradition, as well as comprehensive social marketing on its Facebook page with 25 million fans.  The Facebook page also features stories about the cookie’s history, a video contest, birthday postings and competitive Oreo Arcade games from around the world including Aventuras Oreo and Torre de Galletas.  In addition, the Oreo Moments Gallery invites fans to share their own personal videos and stories. When the centennial celebration concludes this year in New York, Kraft will also anoint a family as “EmbajadOreo “(Oreo Ambassador).

In its new and unprecedented marketing campaign, Oreo features the problem/solution theme (time-stressed adults/Oreo fix), arguably reminiscent of Hallmark’s own launch of the “Happy Unemployment” line of sympathy and gag greeting cards, in Spanish, too.  A correlation easily could be made that misery loves a “feel good” Oreo moment, given the exponential gain in worldwide sales for Kraft’s Oreo brand.  According to The New York Times Oreo sales rose to more than $2 billion in 2011, double the sales as recently as 2007.

As as our theme mapping of the NetBase Spanish social conversation shows thus far this year, Latinos love their Oreo Moments.  But what they particularly love is their own inspired Oreo recipes, from baking to beverages. Latinos also appreciate the battered deep-fried Oreo cookies often served at street fairs, and perhaps a bit on the far side of culinary invention rarified combinations with Ketchup and Mayo, or Oreo McFlurry ice cream topped with French fries. On the tamer side of confection, at home Latinos enjoy the satisfaction of DIY Oreo cookie experimentation.

 

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Culturally sensitive to regional tastes, the Oreo variety includes Dulce de Leche, an Argentine favorite, while McDonald’s McFlurry outlets cater to the local Uruguayan preference for dulce de leche in McFlurry Oreo milkshakes rather than plain chocolate or vanilla ice cream.

On the negative side, Latino consumers expressed health concerns and complained Oreos are addictive, with cravings for the cookie combined with compulsive appetite created by the snack.  Others seemed tortured by sparse cream fillings, and some found the Oreo Moment contrived and lacking authenticity, and the eating technique disgusting.

 

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While the global campaign responds to a world of stressed-out folks in recessionary times who are transported back to their carefree childhood, albeit for an ephemeral moment, the Latino Oreo Moment appears to embrace a more romantic amorous sentiment for consumers.  I am wondering how Oreo’s “twist-lick-dunk” inferences in the 15-country marketing campaign will play out globally. 

However, given the snack food industry bonanza, it might be interesting in a future blog to take a look at another of Kraft’s iconic and comfy foods, Macaroni & Cheese.