Case Study

PR Firm Creates Stackable Cookie Campaign More than 350,000 kids stacked Oreos at retail outlets last year in a promotional birthday contest that was so successful, Nabisco Biscuit Company [NA] plans to do it again this summer. The grassroots PR campaign by New York-based Yecies Associates was created to help rejuvenate the mature Oreo brand, increase sales and generate media coverage during its 85th year. People like to play with their Oreo cookies, Nabisco found by surveying more than 100,000 consumers. Indeed, stacking them is apparently a major pastime for kids and adults alike. Some prefer to dunk their Oreos and 35 percent like twisting them, but virtually all those surveyed admit to playing with the cookie. Yecies used the play component to create the "Oreo Stacking Contests" at 15,000 retail outlets across the country as part of a six-point plan. The overall budget was more than $1 million, including PR, advertising and promotions. Though playful at heart, the campaign generated serious results from February 1997 through January 1998. Nabisco reported a 11% spike in Oreos sales over the previous year by increasing traffic through the in-store stacking contests. "Stacking contests encouraged consumers to practice [and purchase cookies] before the actual event," says Susan Yecies, president, Yecies Associates, Nabisco's long-time agency. Enter The Media Both print and broadcast media picked up on many aspects of the campaign, which garnered 350 million media impressions and more than 2,500 placements including "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," "Live with Regis & Kathy Lee," "Good Morning America," "CBS This Morning," "The Today Show," CNN's "Headline News," The New York Times and Sports Illustrated. "We had to make sure we structured the timeline correctly so we wouldn't be hitting the media too frequently," says Elisabeth Wenner, with Yecies. "Our responsibility is to keep it fresh and keep the enthusiasm up." The media and PR plan included: A press conference at the Chelsea Market in New York held to kick off the year-long birthday bash. The newly renovated, former home of the original Nabisco Bakery was used for the event. The date, Feb. 28, was named the official Oreo Birthday by the Mayor's Office in New York.Oreo Stacking Contests at 15,000 retail outlets including supermarkets, grocery stores and 2,300 Wal-Mart stores. Kids 12 and under competed to stack the most Oreos in 30 seconds. An outside promotions company was hired to manage the contests in-store. The top 10 kids were invited to the "Only Oreo Kids National Stacking Finals" held at Universal Studios Florida, where they competed for a $20,000 U.S. savings bond and a year's supply of Oreo cookies. Miss Universe, Brook Lee and baseball star Ozzie Smith were on hand to judge the event. Only Oreo Million-Dollar Stack-Off: A special one-day stack-off was held at Universal Studios. Any participant who stacked 85 cookies in 85 seconds was eligible to win $1 million. A 16-year-old won $25,000 after stacking 25 cookies.Kids Recipe Contest for kids ages 7 and under and 8 to 12. Kids were invited to send in recipes of their most original Oreo-based recipes. The winner received a $20,000 savings bond, a year's supply of Oreo cookies and a free trip to the 85th Oreo birthday party. More than 300 kids submitted recipes.Only Oreo Moments: Adults and kids were invited to submit an essay, photograph or tape that depicted a "meaningful Oreo moment." The winner received $10,000 and the winning piece was made into a commercial which began airing in January.Only Oreo Bakery Parties were held at Nabisco's five baking plants for employees. The winning stacker was flown to the birthday party at Universal Studios Florida. "The most challenging part of the campaign was managing all of the components," says Yecies, "and hoping that it would work - and it did." Yecies had anywhere from 3 to 10 staffers at work on the campaign and coordinated its efforts with Nabisco's in-house PR staff. The campaign was so successful that this past May, Nabisco and Yecies launched another stacking contest that kicked off in 2,300 Wal-Mart stores and will run in a total of 15,000 outlets through mid-August. By combing through last year's coverage, Yecies has been able to determine where the contest was extensively covered by the media, and is returning to those locations. Contest information has been posted on the Oreo Web page and a toll-free number has been set up so consumers can find a contest in their area. (Susan Yecies, Elisabeth Wenner, Yecies Associates, 212/727-1239) Yecies & Associates Headquarters: ManhattanNumber of Employees: 10Founded: 1985Clients: General Mills, Nabisco, Nissan, Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association

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