Oreo marketing chief bares tack to longevity

In Photo: Anna Sapitan, Brand head of Oreo, Mondelez, speaks at a forum on marketing on November 11, where she emphasized connections with young consumers like herself.

FOR a century-old cookie, Oreo has learned to continuously put a twist to itself and dunk its way to the digital platform.

Born in the same year luxury cruise ship as Titanic sank, the brand has moved forward from marketing its intricately designed tin cans in the early 20th century to television commercials in the post war period. Its first TV ad in the 1970s showcased a young boy enjoying a pack of Oreos, setting its market focus on children. By the 2000s, gears shifted toward a family-centric approach through the “Better Together” campaign. Now the world’s top-selling cookie has cast a wider net for a bigger audience, where else, through social media.

“I think the way we approach our market right now is we try to cast a wider net for everyone, everybody,” Anna Sapitan, Mondelēz Philippines Biscuits category manager, told the BusinessMirror in an interview. “That’s one of the shifts we made right. So from kids we made ourselves relevant to everybody.”

At present, Oreo considers itself a global digital powerhouse with 42 million followers on Facebook alone. The cookie’s YouTube channel has over 15 million subscribers, while its Instagram and Twitter account has 19 million and 830, 000 followers, respectively.

Animated marketing

ACCORDING to Sapitan, for a company to continuously shape itself and create a voice in the digital space, a significant percent of budget should be allotted to the digitization of its leading brands. Without disclosing numbers, the executive emphasized that Oreo’s return of investments across all digital platforms have been faring well, as investments in digital media are continuously encouraged.

Oreo Philippines Brand Manager Princess Pacannuayan elaborated how the brand has emerged to become one of the fastest growing in the Philippine market through its Wonderfilled animated marketing campaign. The company has identified one of the largest occupants and users of cyber space—millennials—and has anchored on the audiences’ extensive consumption of digital media.

“Right now, millennials are setting the tone…I don’t have their exact figures right now but from what I’ve [known], it’s really quickly growing. In five years they’re the main decision-makers of the family,” she said.

Sapitan added, “Millennials spend six hours a day on the digital space and their TV consumption is becoming less and less. The trend is really there. I think we should just embrace this trend.”

Meanwhile, Pacannuayan said the cookie’s growth in the country for the past decade “speaks for itself” and has translated to great sales for the company along with its continuous improvement. At present, the brand has been measuring their digital success in terms of reactions, a combination of comments, likes and reach their posts have.

Key metric

ALMOST half of the Filipino population are on social media, with some 47 million having accounts on several social-media sites, and Paccanuayan sees this as a leverage for the brand.

“Being a global brand, we always make sure that were relevant locally. We’re doing that now through social media. We make sure that whatever is trending locally, we ride on with that trend. We make sure that we’re on top of it,” she said.

For its Ms. Universe 2015 homecoming post on Facebook alone, the post celebrating the victory of Filipina Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach gained over 3.37 million impressions online, twice the reach of Oreo’s congratulatory post for Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar win that garnered only 1.32 million. “Reach is our key metric and it translates back to our goal of expanding our market and that more people see us and our ads,” Sapitan said.

Oreo has posted $2.9 billion in global annual revenues for 2015, making it one of Mondelēz International’s “billion-dollar” brands. Every year, more than 40 billion Oreo cookies are being produced in 18 countries around the world. Its Facebook community represents Oreo lovers in more than 200 countries and ranks among the top 10 brand Facebook pages in the world.

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Mia Rosienna Mallari is a former Science and Technology writer for the University of Santo Tomas' The Varsitarian. During her elementary and high school years, she served as the editor-in-chief of her school's official publication. She took up journalism out of her passion for reading and writing and fear of numbers. Ironically, she is currently a reporter for the Banking and Finance section of BusinessMirror. She also contributes to the Digital Life pages.

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