Who Markets Better: Oreo or Nutella?

Oreo utterly demolishes Nutella when it comes to skilful marketing.

All marketing begins with the product itself, and Oreo’s is pretty unique. It’s got a memorable texture to it. The cookie and creme are distinct – white creme on black cookie. Try thinking of a black and white cookie. Ask anyone what comes to their mind when you say, “Black. White. Cookie.”

It’s Oreo – and it’s always going to be Oreo. It’s been ingrained into your system since you were a kid, watching other little kids on TV do the inaugural Twist, Lick, Dunk, and then begging your mom to buy a roll of Oreo cookies down the aisle of the grocery store. People pick favorites. There are many ways of eating it, with or without milk. It’s fun to disassemble. It’s even more fun to stack it up. It evokes a horrifying moment of utmost despair when we dunk our cookies for too long, and have it disintegrate into our milk.

All of Oreo’s marketing is rooted in the basic elements of the product, which makes it believable and compelling. Here’s how they’ve done it in recent times:

1: The Super Bowl Tweet

On 13th Feb 2013, at 8:38pm, the lights went out at the Super Bowl. The game stopped, and 100 million TV viewers turned to social media. In mere minutes, Oreo tweeted, posted and shared the above ad. (They actually have a brilliant team of 15, ready to react to a situation like this in 10 minutes or less) It went super-viral. It was timely, witty and relevant. It made loads of headlines for being the first of its kind.

2: #OreoPetShow

If you search Pinterest for “Oreo”, you’ll find a surprising number of pictures of furry four-legged friends.

Oreo capitalized on this with the #OreoPetShow. By allowing pet owners to co-create the phenomenon, Oreo tastefully “hijacked” the love people associate with their pets- and lots of it spills over onto the brand. I use the term “hijack” very carefully. Oreo conducted the #OreoPetShow in a way that was tasteful, fun and respectful. If they had insisted on something silly like “Buy a pack of Oreos and have your pet take a picture with it!”, things wouldn’t have flown so well there.

3: #CremeThis #CookieThis

Another awesome thing Oreo did was to ask fans to submit Instagram pictures hashtagged with #CookieThis or #CremeThis. Artists would then recreate the picture as a sculpture.

This was exciting for everyone in on the game: Oreo fans, the artists themselves, and even casual observers. It was an opportunity to get something special made out of your favorite photo, for free! Who’d turn that down? Even the cynics would’ve been curious enough to give it a shot.

Oreo’s Instagram page now has over 90,000 fans, which is more than McDonald’s and Coca Cola‘s Instagram pages combined. Go ahead and spend some time on it – it’s easy to understand why. Oreo’s page is far more entertaining.  I don’t even use Instagram, but I found myself scrolling through pages and pages of it.

4: Extremely Compelling Content

Surely you’ve spotted a pattern by now: Oreo has gotten really good at tapping into people’s emotions to figure out what they’re interested in, and then leveraging on that to take the world by storm.

A brand is a promise kept, and Oreo consistently delivers. Following Oreo on social media is like having a really clever, fun and adorable friend who never asks for anything other than the opportunity to show you a good time. Pretty hard to resist.

Note that you can’t emulate Oreo’s success just by talking about controversial topics. The magic is in the delivery. For every Oreo that successfully taps into the spirit of the times, there are countless brands that fall short and hurt themselves by coming across as desperate and needy.

5: Awesomely Consistent Brand Imagery

oreo-wonderfilled

Oreo’s branding is all-encompassing. They have all their visual (and audio) elements aligned perfectly to create a consistent impression: It’s fun, slightly cartoony (embrace your inner child!), and they’ve even sought out and supported musical artists who are consistent with their image. You’ll never second-guess Oreo as a source of fun content you can talk about and share with your friends.

In comparison, Nutella’s marketing is pretty lame.

nutella-start-the-day

Nutella doesn’t really seem to get what their fans want or like. The brand (Ferrero) is holed up in Italy, and is known to be one of the most reclusive brands around. They don’t engage their fans all that much, and is almost as if they’re marketing in their own little bubble. Their Facebook page is unremarkable, full of predictable, cookie-cutter marketing.

Their slogans, “Wake Up To Nutella” or “Start The Day With Nutella”, are rather uninspiring. “Breakfast is really important,” the Nutella marketing spiel typically goes. Yawn! Almost completely out of sync with what their fans actually want – which makes everyone wonder if Nutella is even noticing their fans? How could they not, when they’ve got the nuttiest (pun totally intended), craziest and most absurd fans going gaga over their bottles of chocolate spread?

Google “Nutella Marketing” and you’ll find nothing but negative commentary. When a fan tried to start a World Nutella Day, their lawyers actually sent her a cease-and-desist letter.

“It seems some companies don’t enjoy free publicity,” wrote Businessweek.

Nutella later claimed that the letter was a routine procedure.

“The case arose from a routine brand defense procedure that was activated as a result of some misuse of the Nutella brand on the fan page. Ferrero is pleased to announce that today, after contacting Sara Rosso and finding together the appropriate solutions, it immediately stopped the previous action.”

What stodgy, boring, soulless corporate-speak!

Nutella’s Marketing Plan (from way back in 2001, so it’s possibly outdated) strikes me as somewhat uninformed about the nature and quality of the product. If you took a look at its marketing efforts alone, you’d guess that they were destined for mediocrity.

But Nutella has a secret weapon: Its fans, who describe themselves as addicts and junkies.

The Nutella obsession boils down to the raw chocolatey quality of the product and pretty much nothing else. Nutella still markets themselves as breakfast food when their fans see them as a kind of extreme indulgence; a social rampage of chocolate. It’s almost like cigarettes or hard drugs, only with negligible social ramifications.

Google Nutella and the 5th link (after Wikipedia and the corporate sites) is “15 Signs You’re Addicted To Nutella.  Check out this post about a blogger’s love affair with Nutella.

It’s incredibly strange to me that Nutella continues to market itself as breakfast food when its fans clearly see it as something more along the lines of a hedonistic indulgence. Can you imagine the kind of intensely positive ramifications that will spill over for Nutella, for simply riding the wave of crazy along with their fans?

Now, imagine Oreo’s social media team behind a product like Nutella. That might be the start of a conquer-all campaign that will never cease to exist for a long time. Eating Nutella will be akin to a religion. Not having Nutella in any household pantry will be deemed a heinous crime. Nutella will take over the world.

Nutella is designed to be eaten with bread, like butter or jam. Many fans prefer to bypass this altogether, eating it straight out of the jar with a spoon.

It strikes me as myopic and blunt. Nutella is getting away with this, of course, because their fans love their product so much that they don’t care about the marketing. They just want the chocolatey goodness, which they rave about on social media. If you spend some time on Tumblr and Google Image Search, you’ll see that Nutella has inspired far more art than Oreo has.

People love it so much, they come up with alternate advertising campaigns on behalf of the brand. For fun!

Nutella has the potential to be much bigger than it is.

We’ve had some interesting conversations among ourselves about Nutella’s marketing. I personally believe that their marketing efforts are weak. I believe that if they sat up and pay closer attention to their fans (or perhaps simply hired a team like Oreo’s), they could propel their brand into stratospheric heights. Sam, on the other hand, feels that Nutella’s appeal is a special product of Internet fan culture, and that any corporate meddling would undermine the affection afforded to Nutella.

I’m sure there’s a middle ground to be reached. It doesn’t mean that Nutella should suddenly get all self-important and try to change its marketing completely. I think it should slowly and progressively put the spotlight on its fans – people who use it when baking, for one. Food bloggers who post recipes! (Have you seen the kinds of Nutella baked goods out there? It’s insane.)

What are your thoughts? Could Nutella get a lot bigger, or is the status quo ideal? Should they continue insisting on their “Nutella Is For Breakfast!” spiel, or should they open up their brand to fan interpretations?

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