The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

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By Amy Houston, Senior Reporter

March 12, 2024 | 5 min read

The Saatchi & Saatchi team behind Oreo’s ‘Cheat Cookies’ explain how they created the second-most-awarded campaign in this year’s World Creative Rankings.

From the iconic Konami Code to The Sims’ legendary infinite money hack, gamers worldwide have long been captivated by cheat codes. With this insight, Oreo evolved its ‘Unlock Playfulness’ work to collect a hard-more achievement, impressing judges and gamers.

It all started back in 2021 when Oreo came to ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi Dusseldorf with a brief to elevate its partnership with Xbox and, ultimately, sell as many cookies as possible. Creative director Ian Guimaraes and his partner Gabriel Lepesteur sat and came up with thousands of ideas before landing on the final execution, and then the year-long project began.

The two came up with a plan of embossing limited-edition cookies with cheat codes that players could scan and use to unlock Easter eggs within Halo, Sea of Thieves and Forza Horizon 5 games.

“Cheat codes are something that has always been there,” Guimaraes explains. “Because it’s such a truth for gamers. That’s important because our target was not hardcore gamers was every gamer.”

It was a strong idea that would attract many groups of people across Europe and beyond, with the cookie right at the heart of it. The creative continues: “Can we do that? Can we actually make the cookies resemble the controller and make people play with that? If you can make that, it’ll be fantastic.”

Once Oreo looked into whether it could actually manufacture six unique cookie ranges, the team was given the green light. “Logistics-wise, it was quite intense checking that with the client,” says Guimaraes. “They loved the idea, and they are great partners.”

Shaking things up, Oreo took inspiration from Xbox controller buttons and used the designs to emboss the iconic black and white cookies. Using the treats, players were able to unlock unique cheat codes by scanning the cookies on the dedicated app and coming up with the correct sequences.

Guimaraes says that working with Xbox on the project was “fantastic” as it is such an iconic brand and was very open to the idea but it was the reaction of gamers that was super encouraging. On social media, people were reacting to the news even before the cookies hit the shelves which gave the creatives an excited feeling about how the campaign would be perceived.

“There were tweets from people going mad and asking where they could get the cookies,” he continues. “It was unexpected.” He says there were even people in ordering cookies from beyond where the campaign actually ran, in a way, the campaign found a way to access secret levels. Of course, with any creative campaign, there were some hurdles to overcome. Before this project, Oreo had only worked on one embossment at a time, for example, its previous collaboration with the Batman franchise.

With any project that brings together two mammoth brands, another challenge was keeping everyone happy. “It’s leveling all the particular interests and be the flame in the middle and spark all the energy,” explains executive creative director Jan Propach. “Keep the timings and the idea. Keep bringing a light to every meeting and not water down the idea.”

Another thing was that fans were so excited that they kept trying to hack into the system. People in Europe who had managed to use the cheat codes to unveil skins were selling them on eBay and there were folk on YouTube giving tutorials on how to trick the system. Guimaraes adds: “We had to do was to change the codes every 20 minutes. So people had to get the cookies in and try to find the cheat codes.”

The campaign gained so much traction and has been named the second most-awarded campaign in the world over the past year, according to The Drum’s World Creative Rankings. “That recognition is super important. To be honest, the only currency that an agency has to stand out, besides everything economical that’s the only currency,” concludes. “It’s showcasing and proving that there is the ability to do extraordinary things with extraordinary people. That’s when it gets interesting. That’s why other companies will approach you and say that they want to work with a specific team.”

He says that it’s like having a close community of people who all work at the same level and have a similar understanding of the quality of the idea.

For Guimaraes, he says it’s like a “dream come true” to be awarded. “Campaigns can be done for real when there’s a partnership between agency and client to achieve something great together.”

Creative Creative Works World Creative Rankings

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