Dunk Into The Oreoverse: How America’s Best Selling Cookie Brand is Making Marketing (Milk) Waves
See how Nabisco is delivering a unique experience online to gamify their most recent product
You’re walking home on a hot summer afternoon in May, just after middle school has let out for the year. As you open the front door of your house, a sweet and inviting aroma hits your nose. Your eyes light up as you realize your mother has purchased a brand new box of Oreos! You eagerly make your way to the kitchen, feeling a rush of excitement and anticipation as you tear open the package. With a sense of satisfaction, you sit down on the living room floor and turn on the television to watch your favorite show, Pokémon. The cool, creamy filling of the Oreos pairs perfectly with the refreshing blast of air conditioning and ice cold milk, providing a much-needed break from the sweltering heat outside. As you relax on the couch, savoring each scrumptious bite, you snap out of the delusion and realize you’re in your mid-30’s wearing a Meta Quest 2 headset trapped in a simulation conceptualized by a reptilian-humanoid named Mark Zuckerberg.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at Oreo’s recent foray into virtual reality, and how the brand is gamifying sweepstakes and utilizing new tech to make waves online. We will be including a brief history of Oreo, and how the brand is constantly reinventing itself and partnering with other brands to capture the short cookie-addled attention spans of its global fans. What’s working with Horizon Worlds-based apps, and what isn’t?
A Bite-Sized History of Oreo
Nabisco, formerly known as the National Biscuit Company, developed and produced the "Oreo Biscuit" at their factory in Chelsea, NYC in 1912. The name Oreo was trademarked on March 14th of the same year. The original Oreo Biscuit was created as a competitor to the Hydrox cookie, made by the Sunshine company in 1908. The block of Ninth Avenue where the factory was located is now called "Oreo Way”. Over the years, the name of the Oreo Biscuit changed multiple times, including "Oreo Sandwich" in 1921, "Oreo Crème Sandwich" in 1948, and finally "Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookie" in 1974. In the early 1990s, Nabisco switched from using lard to partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in the crème filling due to health concerns. Nowadays, Oreo cookies are a popular choice for those with dietary restrictions, including vegans, since the crème filling does not contain any animal products.
Spatial Awareness is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Oreo’s Marketing Strategy
Oreo is an old brand, but our taste buds don’t discriminate. Consumers love Oreos, and the sales don’t lie. Over 34 billion Oreo cookies are sold and dunked annually, with nearly a 1/3rd of those being in the United States. Mondelez International Inc, which owns Nabisco, has sales exceeding 3 billion dollars annually, largely contributed to by the sale of Oreos and their many permutations.
Oreo's marketing campaigns have been successful, with ‘Celebrating 100 Years’ campaign being a standout example. The Daily Twist campaign saw Oreo post artistic, fun, and catchy posts on its Facebook page for 100 days. During the pandemic, Oreo launched the #AtHomewithOreo and #MakeWayforPlay campaigns to encourage people to have fun at home (and ideally eat more Oreos).
At present, the company's marketing strategy is built on the idea of introducing new and unique flavors of its iconic cookie to its loyal customer base. Part of these new flavors involve collaborations with other brands.
At least this is edible and isn’t a red brick
Here are some of the most notable recent examples:
Oreo x Supreme: a collaboration in 2020 that generated significant hype, with cookies listed on eBay for over $10,000 even before the official launch.
Peeps Oreos: a cursed collection and a suitable gift for people you truly despise, which debuted in 2018 and must be popular because they keep making them.
Oreo x Games of Thrones: Self-explanatory, tastes like the fictional land of Westeros.
Ritz x Oreo: Another cursed collection where the cookie is half of a Ritz cracker with peanut butter and the other side is a regular Oreo. How this got approved is beyond me, but it went viral on TikTok so maybe there’s your answer.
The Batman Oreo: The dark knight, much like a traditional Oreo, has a gooey creme-filled center.
BLACKPINK x Oreo: The South Korean girl group and Oreo have one thing in common: loving money. The original packages contained collectable picture cards of the K-pop group and became minor collectables on eBay.
Lady Gaga x Oreo: A pinkish Oreo with a malachite-green filling, made to promote Gaga’s 2020 album Chromatica.
Oreo Dragon Ball: Mondelez Japan released a limited run of the cookies to promote Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, just in time for you to ‘kamehameha かめはめ 波 は!’ on the toilet the morning after eating an entire box Friday night.
Pokémon Oreos: This blew up in 2021, and caused my mother, sister, and other friends to trek to multiple different stores to find the rare Mew Oreo. I got one on my first box, and ended up keeping it in a ziplock bag and posting it to eBay for a hundred dollars. Nobody bought it, and I eventually ate the stale cookie a few months later.
The author with his Mew Oreo
Internationally, Oreo has launched flavors specific to certain countries and regions, such as the Green Tea Oreo in China and Japan (absolutely delicious), and Coconut Delight Oreo in Indonesia. They have adapted to different markets around the globe by keeping prices low in price-sensitive locations like India and China.
Oreo’s recent OreoID program is also worth noting. On Oreo’s main site, you can customize your own Oreo cookies and even include photos on each one. This is almost prohibitively pricey, but it would make for a great special occasion and it is a blast to make a custom cookie. Hey, it’s only 80 bucks for 20 custom printed Oreos with special frosting and sprinkles!
A web3-flavored cookie, JUMP themed.
Oreo’s engagement on social media is self-aware and fresh. The brand has ~3.4 million followers on Instagram and over 1 million on Twitter. The memes Oreo shares generally aren’t that cringy, and engagement is high.
Oreo's marketing strategy relies heavily on novelty flavors, as these bring consumers back to the classic Oreo cookie, increasing sales of the original product (essentially a flywheel effect). There’s a zillion of these, like Birthday Cake, Neapolitan, Watermelon, Fruit Punch, Cookie Dough, Red Velvet, Key Lime Pie, and on and on.
The Oreoverse metaverse activation was created to promote The Most Oreo Oreo, a cookies-n-creme flavored Oreo filling with even more filling than a Double Stuf. So, without further ado, let’s DUNK INTO THE OREOVERSE.
To start, the packaging on The Most Oreo Oreo has a QR code front and center, leading consumers to the Oreoverse site. Once you open up the site, you can check out the Oreoverse by either jumping into a Unity/WebGL-based experience on your phone or computer via a browser, or by launching Horizon Worlds within Meta Quest and searching for ‘Oreoverse’ in the worlds tab.
Mobile and Web Browser Version
For the mobile and web browser-only version, there isn’t a whole lot to say. The experience is visually impressive, but devoid of the charm and interactivity present in Horizon Worlds. Jumping into an experience where you’re the only player (aside from semi-conscious floating Oreos) feels lonely. This version exists to replicate the experience you’d otherwise have by spending time in the multiplayer Horizon version. Because the games are virtually identical in both versions, I’m only going to cover the Horizon’s experience. That said, I definitely recommend the Horizon version between the two if you have a headset.
The metaverse we didn’t know we needed
To enter the promotion you’ll need an Oreo Code. You gain access to the code by completing a series of simple games within the experience. Each week, a new code is released, so you can enter and play each week during the promotional period. Once you snag the code, you jump back to the Oreoverse site and dump it in. Like all sweepstakes, no purchase is necessary to participate.
For a solid video exploration of the Oreoverse, I highly recommend Jasmine’s video here:
There’s 6 distinct levels in the Oreoverse, and you can only progress if you complete them sequentially. Some of the mini games that you play to progress include:
Stack Stuf - Stacking Oreos using a platform and buttons. The most unintuitive and confusing game to begin the verse.
Explore Stuf - Make your way through a crunchy cookie maze and get to the center to proceed.
Rocket Stuf - Launch Oreos at clouds, and hit three to proceed.
Nab Stuf - Wrangle up Oreo minis with a racket, and catch five to proceed.
Share Stuf - Jump from object to object in the space and launch a Most Oreo Oreo into a gigantic mouth.
Dunk Stuf - Catapult yourself from a spoon to the top of a glass of milk and take a selfie. Slide down the straw to dunk yourself into the winner’s lounge.
After all the minigames are completed, you’ll reach the winner’s lounge, where the redemption code will appear (on a gigantic Oreo). Each minigame takes a couple minutes to complete at most, and seeing other people attempting to complete the games made me laugh out loud.
The selfie I took right before dunking myself
Overall, the experience is enjoyable, but the potential interactivity within Horizon Worlds makes it much more memorable. I ended up meeting a Horizon Worlds builder (shoutout to Nes!) within the experience when I visited, and I’m going to be interviewing him next week as part of a series on metaverse building and activations.
With all of this in mind, let’s jump to the good, the bad, and takeaways from this activation.
It’s humorous and memorable. Unlike other less 3D-intensive advergaming experiences, this one stuck with me, and that’s really saying something.
The prizes in this sweepstakes are fantastic, and Oreo is taking a stance by giving away 7 VR headsets.
New codes weekly encourages people to come back to the experience and run through the minigames again.
The experience doesn’t take that long, is pretty fun in VR, and ends with a tangible chance at a reward.
While the mobile/web version is dull, it still allows for people who do not have headsets to mostly experience the same minigames that Horizon players will. If someone is scanning the QR code on a box of Oreos, they can play the game.
While the games are humorous, the limited functionality at this time within Horizon Worlds means that the games can only do so much and feel at times shallow.
Horizon Worlds is buggy and glitchy at times, and the experience crashed on me once. This isn’t Oreo’s fault, and the experience is improving monthly with new updates.
The first game is confusing enough that many players who entered the experience sat around trying to figure it out, cursed, and left. Make the barrier for continuation lower.
More forward thinking mechanics (like web3 functionality) are notably absent from this experience. While that would have made the sweepstakes a legal nightmare, we would have heard a lot about this if Oreo had a web3 loyalty program with the ability to accrue points within Oreoverse.
Including a referral program to get more people to play (get a friend to login and you get more points or chances in the sweeps) may have helped this truly take off.
No Oreo Discord. Missed potential there for more exposure within VR and web3 communities.
One grand prize: A $50,000.00 check!
Seven first prizes: One VR headset and one package of Oreo product.
Five second prizes: One gaming console and one package of Oreo product.
One hundred third prizes: One set of wireless headphones and one package of Oreos.
Twenty-five fourth prizes: One Oreo-branded t-shirt and one package of Oreos.
One hundred fifth prizes: One wireless power bank charger and one package of Oreos.
Fifty discount codes: One $25 Oreo discount code and a gift card.
I had not intended on releasing an article about this experience, but I thought it deserved further analysis. It is fascinating to see how brands are approaching utilizing VR, and I think Nabisco has hit the nail on the head with this release. While the experience is not VR-exclusive, it still offers mobile and computer users the chance to experience almost the same sort of environment with little to no effort on the user’s end. The prizes are worthwhile, and Oreo has set themselves up to potentially do this again and expand the Oreoverse with an additional release down the line.
The lack of web3 elements might leave some web3-centric marketers wishing there was more here, but anyone familiar with the legal hoops associated with incorporating decentralized finance realize that this decision (at the moment) was probably for the better. Just because a newly created VR experience doesn’t have web3 elements doesn’t mean it isn’t worth paying attention to for those engaged within the web3 space; think about how an experience like this could be expanded using web3 elements!
For now, Oreo joins the ranks of Gucci, Nike, and Adidas for having a metaverse-lite experience that is accessible in 2023 and approachable for young and old. This experience could have been built in Roblox, but it wouldn’t have had the memorable VR elements that made it truly stand out. If anything, it is a testament to the potential for Meta’s platform to serve as a space for brands to get creative and try something new.
That’s it! We’ll be back next week with a fun interview with metaverse builders, and hopefully another article on Spotify’s incorporation of token-gated playlists.
Spatial Awareness is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.