Oreo's local-first, globally connected COVID-19 strategy around playfulness

Find out more about "Stay Home, Stay Playful" and the brand's new cookie challenge.

From Ritz and Chips Ahoy to Trident and Cadbury, Mondelez has many popular brands in its portfolio, but Oreo is the most well-known, with fans in more than 100 countries around the world.

When the coronavirus pandemic began hitting the globe, the Oreo team asked itself how it can help consumers in a way that taps into the brand’s purpose. "We wanted to use our playfulness to bring people together," said Bryan Rakowski, head of global brands, Oreo, Belvita and Trident, at Mondelez. "Oreo is a brand to have fun with - twist, lick and dunk."

The company first turned to its team in China for guidance since it was the first country to deal with COVID-19.

"Mondelez operates on a local-first, but not local-only business model," said Rakowski.

In addition to taking content out of its marketing that's no longer relevant due to coronavirus, like messages around packing kids’ lunches for school, the brand looked at how playfulness can help people get through any situation.

It then tapped into the brand's rich backlog of recipes and at-home activities to promote in place of other content.

"We started sharing content that has worked in the past and would provide use today and brought it back up to feeds," added Rakowski.

From there, ideas from Oreo’s agency partners and local brand teams poured in. The global team members, he said, became curators and shared the best of what was resonating and adding value around the world. 

That’s how the new "Stay Home, Stay Playful" concept was born -- and it came from the team in the Middle East and Africa. The tagline is a clever, simple edit of Oreo’s existing "Stay Playful" campaign, which was created by the U.S. team in 2019.

The U.S. team saw the work and asked if it could use the end card, which was followed by Australia and New Zealand. Europe will roll something similar out next. The brands Latin America markets are also looking at adapting the content into Spanish-language versions. China likely won’t pick up the tagline since the country is starting to return to a sense of normalcy from the virus.

Rakowski said getting "global rights for a user-generated video is no small feat," tipping his hat to the Oreo brand teams and agency partners for their quick work. The Martin Agency is Oreo’s global agency partner, while Publicis supports local markets all over the world. 

"This agency model has helped us be agile in this situation," he said. "The Martin Agency is not part of Publicis but this bridge allows for a flow of information between the two around the world."

In terms of media buys for the new "Stay Home, Stay Playful" campaign, Rakowski said the brand is making a higher investment in e-commerce, while evaluating other channels per market depending on how COVID-19 has impacted that region. 

"We’re not done in any sense - this is going to continue to evolve," said Rakowski, adding that the U.S. launched a market-specific social media challenge for Oreo on Sunday. 

The #CookieWithACause initiative, which kicked off on TikTok, taps into a game that brand fans were already playing, which involves placing an Oreo on their forehead and trying to move it to their mouth in inventive ways. Even Jimmy Fallon tried it on his show a few months ago. 

"Fans love it, and it’s also an opportunity to support one of our longstanding partners, Save the Children," said Justin Parnell, senior director for Oreo. Once one million videos of the cookie challenge are posted and tagged with the #CookieWithACause hashtag, Oreo will make a donation to Save the Children, which will help nearly 30 million kids with food and learning support amid the coronavirus crisis. 

Latina pop star Becky G started the cookie challenge on her own TikTok over the weekend. The video has been viewed more than 2.4 million times in the last five days.

Going forward, Parnell said the brand will look at how to give consumers more ways to have fun with Oreos and inspire a sense of optimism in playfulness.

"We need that now more than ever," he said.

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