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OREO tasked VMLY&R Commerce to raise sales - here's how it worked

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By The Drum | Editorial

November 30, 2023 | 5 min read

Cookie brand OREO partnered with three US retailers to reverse a decline in sales and collected the Digital Industries Awards for Consumer Goods in the process. Here is the award-winning case study.

Example of the award-winning digital work

OREO Cookies have been milk and cookie fans’ top choice for over 110 years, since then, it has made a tremendous effort to become, in the brand's own words, "Milk's Favorite Cookie. Despite OREO maintaining a 99% brand awareness across the U.S., there are still thousands of American households that purchase milk but don't buy OREOs—yet. We recognized a distinct opportunity to capitalize on an incremental purchase occasion partnering with 3 major US Retailers: Albertsons, Safeway and Jewel-Osco.

Creative Idea OREOCODES is a first-of-its-kind commerce experience that turns milk barcodes into scannable OREO offers, tapping into something hidden in plain sight, the striking similarity between barcodes and stacks of OREOs, an interactive experience that reminds consumers that every glass of milk deserves an OREO cookie.

How it works:

1. Consumers access the web app at oreocodes.com.

2. Take any milk carton from their fridge (including milk alternatives like Oat and Almond)

3. Flip or place the barcode in a vertical position (to reveal a stack of Oreos) and scan it with their mobile devices.

4. See the OREOCODE convert into dunkable offers available at three major retailers in the U.S.: Albertsons’, Jewel-Osco, and Safeway

Strategy

OREO saw year over year penetration decline in Q2 2022 at Jewel-Osco by 5.6%; the beloved cookie brand just was not making it into shoppers’ carts. Not only were shoppers skipping OREO, but they also weren’t even going down the cookie aisle. The cookie category overall was declining versus the prior year in Q2 2022 at Jewel- Osco, by 8.7%. We asked ourselves, how could we remind shoppers of the joy that OREO brings them and drive purchase of OREO in that same moment? Our opportunity presented itself in cookie’s favorite partner – milk! Not only had milk had a consistent base and high frequency, but the category was also seeing growth, with trips per buyer up 0.1 in Q2 2022 versus the prior year. OREO was ready to tag-along with milk for the climb.

Execution

To bring the OREOCODES experience to life, we created a web app and integrated UPCs (Unique product codes / Barcodes) of over 1000 milk products (including milk alternatives like soy, almond and oat milk). With our mobile website enabling barcode scanning technology, we turned every milk barcode into a new, fun way for people to buy OREO cookies at home. Consumers just had to grab any milk carton (at home or in-store), flip it, scan the OREO-looking barcode, and receive a coupon to save on OREO cookies. To drive awareness and education of this fun new technological experience, we leveraged influencers to spread the word, along with in-store communication, social ads, and digital out-of home advertisements invited people to engage on the spot via their mobile devices.

Results

With a 83% conversion rate, the OREOCODES activation was a driving catalyst for incredible retail growth of the OREO brand versus this time last year. All key metrics saw growth, whether it be product trips (1.9+), unit sales (799k+) and dollar sales ($3.5M+) – all outpacing the cookie category as well. In totality, this led to astounding growth in unit and dollar share (2.3+ and 2.6+, respectively) for the OREO brand, and a 7.3% Sales increase vs prior year Beyond the monetary growth, this campaign drove strong brand awareness, social engagement (230% increase), and resonation among Oreo lovers, but most importantly, among milk drinkers who will always be potential new customers for the brand.

Cultural Context

"It's generally agreed upon that Oreos are best when dunked in milk. After all, the slogan is "Milk's favorite cookie." But there's a science behind why they taste better that way, it has to do with the fact that milk contains emulsifiers that affect the way your tongue picks up flavor. Milk, therefore, escalates this process, while also evening out the flavor profile of the cookie, resulting in a more "full-bodied taste." OREOs also benefit from the methylbutanol being released during the dipping process. Methylbutanol is the flavor compound that cookies develop when baked. When baked goods get wet, this methylbutanol intensifies and is more easily detected not only by the tongue but also by the nose. By dunking OREOs in milk, you're able to maximize the taste of the OREOs."

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