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Brand Saga: Cadbury Oreo’s India Chapter – Being more than just an 'American Brand'

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Sneha Yadav
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Cadbury Oreo advertising Journey


The year 2011 marked the introduction of Oreo biscuits in India. Ten years down the line, we recalibrate the brand’s efforts to reinvent itself in the desi market we take a look at Cadbury Oreo advertising Journey.

With an aim to make one of the world's favourite biscuits, Oreo, one of India's favourite too, Kraft-Cadbury India forayed into the country's biscuit market in 2011 which was then estimated at INR 12,000-crore. Since then there was no looking back. The creamy delight savoured by all age groups amasses a separate fan base and with this, we voyage across the Cadbury Oreo advertising journey.

Oreo Flies to India

It was in March, 1912 when “Oreo Biscuit" was first developed and produced by the National Biscuit Company (today known as Nabisco) at the Chelsea Market Bakery, Manhattan, New York and was sold in bulk tins. For the lesser-known, Oreo Biscuit was renamed in 1921 to ‘Oreo Sandwich’. In 1948, the name was changed to "Oreo Crème Sandwich’ and in 1974 it became the ‘Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookie’.  A new design for the face of the cookie was launched in 1924. The modern-day Oreo design was developed in 1952 by William A. Turnier incorporating the Nabisco logo.

With its presence across more than 100 countries in the world, Oreo gets produced in local flavors, like blueberry and green tea ice cream, and fun shapes and forms, while the one thing that remains right at the heart of milk’s favorite cookie is its tagline - “twist, lick, dunk”.

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The heritage brand came to India with the same philosophy in March 2011 and the debut rollout was with the dark chocolate flavour. With Oreo, Cadbury India, who till then boasted of chocolates like Cadbury Dairy Milk, 5-Star, Perk, and health drinks such as Bournvita, marked its entry into the over-competitive biscuit segment.

Cadbury Oreo Advertising Journey

According to an AC Nielsen study, the Indian biscuit market grew at 17 percent in 2010, with creams and biscuits leading to overall growth in which Parle, Britannia, and Priya Gold grabbed the larger share.

During the launch, the company mentioned that the biscuits will be locally manufactured for the Indian market and Consumers will find Oreo on the shelves of "hundreds of thousands of retail outlets across urban and semi-urban markets" at price points of INR 5, INR 10, and INR 20.

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The launch of ‘Oreo’ was a part of Cadbury’s long-term strategy in India to gradually expand the business' operation from a confectionery company to a broader foods company; it was the second product after orange drink Tang that got launched in India under the Kraft Foods' portfolio.

Some of its major competitors were Parle Hide n seek, ITC’s Sunfeast Sandwich Biscuits and Britannia Bourbon who also amassed a loyal consumer base in the market with unique preferences. Oreo had to take on the big giants. However extending its global narrative of ‘twist, lick, dunk” to India, the brand kept the communication intact and focused on the message of ‘togetherness’.

The Magic of ‘Twist, Lick, Dunk’

Globally the brand has been creating conversations around -what we would call in millennial language - THE OG century-old tagline – ‘twist, lick, dunk’ which summarizes the whole standard practice of eating Oreo biscuits i.e- twist open an Oreo biscuit, lick the vanilla cream, then dunk the biscuit in a glass of milk.

Across the border, the brand has been experimenting with various advertising touchpoints like movie integration, gaming, and supporting social causes like spreading awareness about Gay Pride month.

In India, too, following a similar approach, post the grand launch, Cadbury rolled out a mass campaign including a TVC conceptualised by Interface Communications introducing Indians to the "Twist, lick, dunk" ritual.

The commercial was aimed at highlighting the bond of a father-daughter duo as they indulge in child-like delight while eating an Oreo. This was also Oreo’s maiden television campaign in India which was released during the ICC World Cup 2011 to grab maximum eyeballs and amplify the newly launched brand’s presence across the nation.

The TVC was supported by a mix of print, radio, and outdoor activities where the bus shelters carried with them large posters of Oreo biscuit packets, a mobile van flashing the ‘twist, lick, dunk' signage, and much more.

In June 2011, arrived the ‘Oreo Togetherness Bus which travelled across nine cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Pune, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mysore to help boost parent-child bonding in India and asked them to spend more time together in this perpetually hectic world.

AC Nielsen'sTogetherness Survey' formed the base for the brand to initiate a series of campaigns wherein the study revealed interesting facts about how Indians viewed relationships and family time.

The brand then took upon itself to encourage Indians to pledge more time to their families and kids for a better future while seamlessly integrating the ‘togetherness’ quotient through Oreo biscuits.

As part of the campaign, the bus was stationed at entertainment hubs of the cities loaded with fun games where anyone can hop onto the bus with their kids to have fun, click photographs, and relish some Oreo cookies.

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The brand was investing huge sums in marketing ‘Oreo’ to millions of Indians seeking a one-time opportunity to build brand affinity and establish its vision. The company even created special Oreo panels to make the brand visible which were called the wall of blue.

The branding efforts translated into better results for the brand which was seemed like an expensive affair to the cost and value-conscious Indian. When Oreo had entered India, it was initially priced at INR 50 for a pack of 14 which did not rake in significant sales. The strategy was reworked later combining it with a high decibel marketing campaign.

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Setting foot in India, the company mainly focused on extending the ‘twist, lick, dunk’ strategy and secondly focused on the ‘togetherness’ quotient. Television was the main channel for Oreo’s advertising followed by outdoor, print, and radio.  Alongside some BTL activities, the brand also targeted store displays and in-store promotions to tackle the competition.

In March 2012, global brand Oreo turned 100 years old and celebrated its one-year anniversary in India. Cadbury rolled out a TVC conceptualised by Interface Communications focusing on the ‘cute’ and sweet bond shared by a father-daughter duo as another moment of joy and delight.

More smiles, innocence, and playful ‘Twist karo, lick karo and dunk karo’ were followed – whether it be the Teddy TVC or kids wishing their fathers on the on the occasion on Father’s day.

Kids have played a major role in the Cadbury Oreo advertising journey owing to the abundance of innocence and pure fun they bring. The candidness was at its best with the commercials featuring the little ones - from the sweet siblings sharing a mutual fondness for the new flavour of Oreo cookies to another duo debating the ‘chocolaty’ quotient in the crème or the biscuit.

Also Read: #BrandSaga: Cadbury Dairy Milk: Giving us reasons to buy chocolates one ad at a time….

2013 also saw Oreo’s market share rising to 30 percent compared since the little over one percent in its debut year.

‘The Celeb Power’ ft Ranbir Kapoor

In December 2013, Cadbury brought on board Ranbir Kapoor and Karthi as brand ambassadors for Oreo in India targeting the North and South markets. The announcement was completed by the launch of the 'Connect Playfully' campaign based on the unique relationship shared by siblings, conceptualized by Interface Communications and directed by Chrome Pictures' Amit Sharma.

The TVC had slice-of-life moments showcasing the spirit of competitiveness, childish rivalry, and genuine love between a brother and sister.

Further in May 2014, the brand announced the launch of its new offering in the biscuits segment, ‘Oreo Orange Crème’ with a TVC featuring Bollywood’s very own chocolate boy Ranbir Kapoor. This time, the ad film was on a fresh take on the relationship between an uncle and his niece highlighting that Oreo is more than just a ‘cream’ biscuit. With the launch, Cadbury also looked to premiumize the orange flavour



The brand further leveraged the playful charisma of Kapoor in its campaigns, ensuring the focus on ‘togetherness’ and ‘bonds’ that remain intact.

Get Playful with  Oreo

2015 marked the launch of a nationwide ‘Play with Oreo’ 360-degree marketing campaign inspiring consumers to get playful and enjoy the small joys of life. 

In addition to a new TVC, “Play with OREO” was mounted on a wide array of media platforms like innovative Graffiti wall art, Outdoor, Radio, along with a prominent presence on digital and social media. With the “Play with Oreo” campaign, Oreo managed to retain its authenticity while staying contemporary and relevant.

The Brand Activation agency for the campaign was Candid Marketing and OOH was helmed by Madison. The animated TVC created by the Global agency FCB, featured customized Indian lyrics and regional singers.

In July 2016, the brand yet again introduced a new variant this time- the Golden Oreo - an extension to the Cadbury Oreo family, which marked its foray into the light-colored cream biscuit market.

Taking forward the special ritual of ‘Twist, Lick, Dunk’ by expanding its trajectory in India in 2018, Oreo launched Oreo Cadbury Dipped, to premiumize the biscuit category further with Oreo cookies coated in deliciously chocolaty Cadbury. 

The TVC was created by FCB Interface that dramatized the moment when consumers experience their first Oreo Cadbury Dipped.

Further, the ‘Oreo People’ campaign was designed to engage with consumers in today’s multi-screen, short-attention-span world with exciting visuals and irresistible music, extending across all channels, with a strong focus on digital.

The TVC displayed a wide-cross section of people and how they enjoy their Oreo cookies, making the much-loved brand relevant to them. With the creative platform, Mondelez India aimed to widen the appeal of the brand in the country, while continuing to play on its core territory.

The global campaign 'Oreo People' was simultaneously launched across 50 markets in AMEA, LA, MEU and localized with nuances to drive relevance.

Another milestone was achieved by the brand in January 2020 when Mondelēz International announced that the company set a GUINNESS WORLD RECORD for the most people dunking cookies across multiple venues.

The launch was supported by a 360-degree communication campaign, designed to demonstrate the unique multi-textural eat experience, combining the crunchy Oreo cookies with Cadbury. The record attempt was coordinated to celebrate the OREO cookie brand reaching a major milestone of $3.1 billion in annual net revenues by end of 2019.

In the following month, it launched the ‘Disconnect to Connect’ campaign conceptualised by FCB Interface, urging consumers to get away from their technological devices and enjoy moments of playful connections with family and friends.

Later, when the nation-wide lockdown was announced, the #AtHomeWithOreo campaign into being. The brand sought to infuse a dose of fun in the daily lives by embracing this new normal through engaging activities and challenges that have a quirky way of helping people stay connected.

In January 2021, building on the proposition to bring families closer by encouraging playful connections, OREO further fortified its promise of infusing a dose of fun in everyone’s life with its latest campaign, #OreoPlayPledge, conceptualized by Publicis Group.

The sentiment was brought alive by the much-loved father-daughter duo – former team India Cricket captain, MS Dhoni and his daughter, Ziva Dhoni, offering Oreo fanatics a glimpse of their playful connection on-screen.

The funny and mischievous conversation and playtime between Dhoni and Ziva ends with a sweet ‘Twist, Lick, Dunk’ moment reiterating the thought that ‘The more we stay playful, the more we connect’, inspiring people to take a pledge.

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Dessert Marketing

As Cadbury Oreo evolved into a leisure premium cream biscuit, various desserts cropped up in the Indian F & B segment. A little while after its arrival in India, Oreo found its way into the McDonald's menu with the launch of Oreo McFlurry. Kwality Walls too launched a premium range of ice cream with Oreo as its base. Oreo variant of the famous Cornettoice cream came next.

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While it can't be always verified if these were paid or bartered brand associations, they certainly aided Oreo in reaching a wider market.

Oreo’s tagline ‘twist, lick, dunk’ has become a ritual and is at the heart of numerous warm family moments. With a strategic play on brand awareness and targeted distribution, the Cadbury Oreo advertising journey has been a success so far.

Stay tuned as we decode the Cadbury Oreo digital advertising journey next week.

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