Fourth-quarter net revenues reported in February this year declined 13.3 per cent partly due to an "unfavourable volume/mix in China" (despite strong gum performance in the market) primarily because distributors destocked excess Oreo biscuit inventory, according to Mondelez International.
Grownups in China are thinking "Oreo is for kids, not for me", said Andy Chan, executive creative director of FCB Shanghai (Oreo's creative agency). Perhaps the cookie is a victim of its own success, as the twist-lick-dunk ritual had been around for 18 years when Kraft started to sell it in China in 1996.
"The client wanted to expand its customer base in the saturated biscuit category to more than just moms and kids, and build on Oreo’s sandwich-cookie leadership to win over lapsed users as well as non-buyers," said Calvin Chu, account director at FCB Shanghai.
With that in mind, Mondelez made the new Oreo half as thick as before, with new flavours: tiramisu and lemon cheesecake. It also launched a new tagline along with the new varieties in July: "不一样的奥利奥巧轻脆, 全新上市“.
Focusing on a new target audience of young urban females who are found to be socially savvy, 'always-on' and 'always-in' according to research by Mintel, We Are Social and State Of Style, the brand adapted the product's marketing. A thinner Oreo is meant to fulfil this consumer's snacking needs, yet also must be sophisticated and fashionable. It also helps that a thinner cookie is not too heavy and does not go straight to the waist.
The creative tone and manner of the new campaign differs greatly from the way the brand talked to a family-oriented target audience in the past, but attempts more relevance from a fashion point of view, said Chan.
To connect the product to a fashionable lifestyle, a 30-second TVC (see above) featured a Chinese version of the main character of The Devil Wears Prada—a picky editor of a fashion magazine looking for the next big 'thin' (wordplay on 'the next big thing').
Double-page ads appeared in top-tier fashion magazines. "It's rare to see food ads in fashion mags, but we wanted to create an entry point for young females to know about the new product and to associate it with trendiness to attract them," Chan told Campaign Asia-Pacific.
Digital and social aspects of the campaign, developed by Isobar, maintained the fashionable vein both online and offline. Outdoor billboards demonstrating the thinness of the new Oreo in a "clean and clever way" mimicked Apple-style simplicity. Those encouraged consumers to use their in-phone cameras to take pictures of the outdoor "biscuit barcodes" that can activate coupons (抵用券) to be redeemed on Yihaodian.com.
DigitasLBi was in charge of seeding female-fashionista KOLs to get them to show off what's inside their handbags—the new thinner Oreo.
Come end of August, we will know whether the marketing of the new product has paid off in sales. FCB was only able to reveal that it is "good" at the moment, but Chan and Chu are confident about the new Oreo being the "next big thin" that will cut through the biscuit category in China.