Brand-Building for Mature Brands — One More Bite Out of Kraft’s Iconic Oreo

[Repost from older blog. Original posting date: Sept. 24, 2008] In a previous post I wrote about brand reboots, brand image versus brand vision, and why Nabisco/Kraft made changes to its iconic Oreo cookie to suit the perceptions and tastes of the Chinese when entering that market. Before we put Oreo back into its case study cupboard, let’s look further at this brand.

When people think of brand-building, their mind often goes to examples of new ventures or first-to-market product releases that hope to stake a claim in the marketplace. Branding for a mature brand—like, say, the Oreo—however, is more often about maintaining brand loyalty and a continued sense of brand excitement.

The Oreo has been around since 1912. It’s been America’s best-selling cookie for decades. So the branding question becomes: how does Kraft stave off the dreaded brand image of a dusty, has-been brand?

They build fun around the cookie. They employ a sense of humor. They try to position the Oreo as one of the things that make your American lifestyle “the good life.” And, currently, they are using traditional media, the Internet, and their Oreo website to do this in three creative ways:

  1. Kraft is sponsoring a homemade video contest for “Best Oreo Moments.” This brand-building technique of soliciting customer-created video content is not very original but, as we’ve seen time and again, effective. Especially when tied into a platform like YouTube. The content is primed to go viral.
  2. Kraft created “Fun with the Oreo & Milk Jingle”—another contest that features not only the winning customer singers and their photos, but also a kind of quasi-karaoke function available on Oreo’s website, where you are welcome to mutilate the Oreo jingle.  Verdict: Getting better.  But the best….
  3. The “Double Stuf Racing League.” Kraft is employing a time-tested branding technique—the celebrity bandwagon endorsement—but with a twist. Instead of just running some ads with a cookie-eating celeb of the moment, Oreo’s branding team has established—an online channel whose acronym stands for “Double Stuf Racing League.” It’s a sport parody in which two people race to finish off the cream on the inside one Double Stuf Oreo. The feature first launched as a popular ad during Super Bowl XLII with a race between QB brothers Peyton and Eli Manning. Now they’ve upped the ante adding tennis’s sensational sisters, Venus and Serena Williams, challenging the two football stars in a battle-of-the-sexes type race for the title. The site has a fake press conference, fake news scroll of the hype, branded league clothing, fan avatars—I simply can’t do it justice in a description here.  If it’s still online, see it for yourself: Nabisco’s Oreo.

The result? Absurd, kitschy, attention-drawing entertainment—which in Oreo’s case in not, ahem, marketing fluff (bad pun), but is in complete alignment with Oreo’s “All-America fun” core brand value. I give this an “A” for brand-building creativity.

SUMMARY: Brand-building for a mature brand doesn’t have to be dull. Learn your target customer’s mindset and then put on your creative thinking caps. See what energizing ideas you can come up with to communicate your brand value(s) to the marketplace in a fresh way.

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