How a 100-year-old brand is mastering social media

The Oreo cookie hit the century mark, and it looks better than ever thanks to its social media efforts.

For most companies celebrating 100 years of a world-famous brand, the word would be “anniversary.” Kraft Foods’ Oreo brand has its own twist: It’s a birthday.

To celebrate the best-selling cookie’s centennial birthday, the brand is looking for its fans not to think about ages in triple or even double digits. It’s asking them to relive being a kid.

“It really is about bringing people together in a fun and celebratory way,” says Basil Maglaris, associate director of corporate affairs at Kraft Foods. “There’s a unique playfulness that people have with the cookie itself.”

On Facebook, Twitter and its website, Oreo is asking people to share that playful spirit through videos and photos, e-cards to friends, or a coupon for a bag of cookies. And the brand’s giving something back.

Years in the making

Kraft’s social media team was thinking about Oreo’s centennial “as far back as the 95th birthday,” says Maglaris, but work in earnest on the celebration started around spring of 2011.

The brand’s mission for the year is “celebrating the spirit of childhood,” he says, so Kraft’s planning included a global survey of parents, asking them about getting in the spirit of being a kid.

“Parents yearn for those moments they had when they were a child,” he says. “They feel that those moments are becoming more precious.”

And so the centerpiece of the celebration became sharing childlike moments inspired by Oreo.

“We really thought about the power of Oreo to create moments, and how we could bring them to life in a fun way,” Maglaris says.

1 million moments

Sharing Oreo moments was something that wasn’t even necessarily new to the Oreo Facebook page, Maglaris says. People have been sharing photos and videos of themselves dunking or twisting open Oreos with their kids or just having childlike fun since Kraft launched the page in 2009.

“We’ve been seeing that for some time, unprompted,” he says. “It’s a social cookie.”

So the brand simply took the idea and formalized it. On its official birthday, March 6, the company posted a video asking fans to send in personal videos, pictures, stories, even short animated films, capturing childlike moments, with the goal of collecting 1 million by the end of the year.

Fans can visit a gallery at Oreo’s website. A counter on the Oreo Facebook page keeps a running tally of the collected moments. In just a few weeks, fans have sent in nearly 400,000 moments.

Multiple pieces

Oreo has also enabled fans to share the fun directly with friends. For instance, its Birthday Notes Facebook tab provides fans the opportunity to send friends personalized birthday e-cards with a Lady Antebellum song attached. Another app, Oreo’s Cookie Gram, enables Facebook users to send friends a coupon for a free bag of cookies at Target.

“We’re really thrilled to be launching the Cookie Gram, which is a first for us, and a first of its kind,” Maglaris says. “It’s a neat way for people to share the love, no matter where their loved ones live.”

Front and center on the Oreo Facebook page is its birthday of the day, which features one fan from somewhere in the world who’s celebrating a birthday. Maglaris says Oreo wanted the celebration to be more than just a retrospective of the brand’s history; it needed to focus on fans, too.

To be featured as the birthday of the day, a fan is prompted to share his or her Oreo moment and include a date of birth with it.

The birthday feature particularly reflects the international flavor of the celebration, Maglaris says. A quick glance at Oreo’s Facebook page reveals birthday tabs in four languages.

“It really is the world’s birthday of the day we’ve reflected on the page,” he says.

Though most of the celebratory content is on Facebook and the Oreo website, one portion, the Oreo Piñata, is Twitter-exclusive. Twitter users who tweet the hashtag #OreoPinata have a chance to win free cookies.

Maglaris says the people behind the brand absolutely wanted it to have a prominent Twitter portion of the celebration, because lots of spontaneous conversations about Oreo happen there.

“We certainly want to be where Oreo fans are,” he says.

And they are on Twitter, for sure. A quick search for #OreoPinata reveals hundreds of tweets from folks looking for some free cookies.

Matt Wilson is a staff writer for

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