Oreos turned a major eclipse in Britain into a marketing bonanza.
by MATT STOKES | SEPTEMBER 22, 2016
This is an entry in an ongoing series of looks at successful modern marketing campaigns.
Social media has caused an explosion of “real-time marketing”—that is, marketing done in conjunction with unrelated, independent, or unexpected events. For example, a commercial during the Super Bowl might be about football, but a real-time marketing campaign could react to something that actually happens during the Super Bowl—”Peyton Manning fumbles the football! Don’t fumble your dishes… clean them with Dawn dish soap!”
Though real-time marketing campaigns often involve decisions made on the fly, they can also be prepared for well in advance. And a great example of this is last year’s Oreo Eclipse.
The Oreo Eclipse
Nabisco built an integrated marketing plan for its Oreo cookies brand that centered around a much-anticipated event in the United Kingdom: the total solar eclipse of March 20, 2015. Knowing the eclipse would be widely discussed throughout the country, the company created a campaign that incorporated many types of traditional and new media.
Digital signs throughout the country showed an Oreo cookie moving in front of its cream filling, in a real-time parallel with the moon’s movement in front of the sun. Using astronomical data, each sign showed an Oreo cookie moving in a real-time parallel to the position of the moon from the vantage point of the sign’s location.
On the day of the eclipse, Oreo had purchased millions of display covers on the Sun newspaper (so that Oreo could “cover” the Sun). The ad was so clever it generated media attention of its own, extending its reach beyond readers of that particular newspaper.
The company also encouraged social media users to create their own Oreo Eclipses by holding an Oreo in front of the sun and taking a picture of it. The hashtag #OreoEclipse trended worldwide as a result.
Did It Work?
The Oreo Eclipse campaign ensured that, on March 20, 2015, millions of people throughout the UK were thinking about Oreos. The brand’s sales rose 59% in the country from the same period the previous year, and Oreo UK had its highest-selling month ever. So while it was undoubtedly an expensive and complicated effort, the revenue and goodwill generated meant the campaign paid for itself.
For companies that don’t have the marketing budget of a Nabisco, much can still be learned from the Oreo Eclipse. There are many occurrences that we know will happen in the future—sporting events, awards ceremonies, and presidential elections are but a few examples. Creating anticipation for the event (and tying your brand in) is key, and Oreo pulled this off to great effect with its commercials and social media posts in the days leading up to the eclipse (“11 days to go… #OreoEclipse”).
Oreo also made wise use of different platforms, playing to each’s strengths, whether it was traditional advertising (such as newspapers and billboards) or social media. Making the right choices about which types of marketing to use, and knowing what it can and cannot do for you, is worth careful consideration.