How Mondelēz International keeps Oreo dynamic with fearless marketing


by Yuyu Chen

Fueled by creativity and enthusiasm, the successful launch of Oreo’s Colorfilled campaign exemplifies how Mondelēz International is able to consistently remain ahead of the marketing curve.

From the beginning of November until Christmas of this year, Oreo lovers will be able to customize the packaging of their cookies and have personalized gift boxes delivered to their door. This limited-time offer is Oreo’s most recent customization initiative that responds to parent company, Mondelēz International’s, vision of growing its e-commerce revenue to $1 billion by 2020.

Many wonder how Oreo, a century old cookie brand, is able to continue delivering vivid experience to its consumers. This can be ascribed to the innovative mindset that parallels the fervor of a startup culture at Mondelēz International, dubbing the strategic approach to the iconic treat’s campaign as “fearless marketing.”


“We are scared every day – we don’t look like Cisco, Facebook, or Google, and we are not Snapchat. So how can we identify the right talent and create the right culture to take advantage of the opportunity in front of us? Three years ago, [Mondelēz International’s CMO] Dana Anderson challenged the organization to be fearless, and as a result, changed the way in which the company operated going forward,” says Bonin Bough, chief media and e-commerce officer at Mondelēz International.

Customization enables a 100-year-old brand to be disruptive 

When discussing the concept of being “disruptive” within the context of marketing, the term typically refers to emerging tech companies – like Uber and Airbnb – that have acquired a reputation for being irresistible in their innovation, and therefore revolutionary. As a snack brand, Oreo aspires to be a disruptor in its category as well, according to Bough. Oreo Colorfilled is the first time Mondelēz International has ever allowed fans customize packaging, thus creating a personalized experience completely dictated by consumers, as they interact and engage with the iconic cookie brand.

Packages feature exclusive, black-and-white designs as the canvas, from graphic artists Jeremyville and Timothy Goodman. After selecting one of the two available templates, consumers can zoom in or out to select which area of the intricate prints they wish to add their own personal touches to.


Available on both desktop and mobile, users have the option to paint with a diverse color palate, and can further customize packages by accessorizing bags with a selection of original graphic stamps. There is also an option to compose an original message for each package.


Prior to Oreo Colorfilled, Mondelēz International had already established its reputation as the driving transformative force behind the brand-evolution of the century-old, iconic sweet treat.

On June 25, 2012, Oreo took a progressive stance by joining in the celebration of LGBT Pride Month, supporting the LGBT cause with a picture of a rainbow-colored, cream filled Oreo cookie on its social platforms. The images displayed on Facebook and Twitter were posted in conjunction with the caption, “Proudly support love!”


The post gained more than 90,000 shares and still has over 280,000 likes to date on Facebook alone. Such success led the Oreo team to seriously consider the value of real-time marketing on social.

After more than a year of experimentation with instantaneous, real-time marketing tactics, Oreo’s “Dunk in the Dark” Tweet went live during the Super Bowl power outage. The timeliness of this post led to it going viral online, and this blackout Tweet is still considered the epitome of a social media coup by many in the industry today.

Last year at South by Southwest, Oreo unveiled a Trending Vending Machine, which allowed attendees to customize cookies based on what was trending on Twitter.

“People waited for two and a half hours to get a cookie. This was when we learned that customization could be a huge platform for this brand,” Bough says. “In order to make this happen, companies must collaborate with the best talent possible, both inside and outside of the organization. Also, they must create a culture that lets talent dream bigger,” he adds.

Behind the scenes of Oreo Colorfilled

The launch of Oreo Colorfilled represents a culmination of Bough’s conception of collaboration, thinking big, and culture. Initially, the idea for Colorfilled came from the company’s e-commerce team, led by Cindy Chen, global head of e-commerce venture at Mondelēz International.


Two months ago, Lauren Fleischer, global brand manager of e-commerce at Mondelēz International, brought up Colorfilled at the company’s monthly brainstorm meeting. It was expected that a project of this magnitude would take around two years to complete, so the majority of attendees wanted to shut down this plan, even referring to it as the product of “negative brainstorming.”

“My co-workers had 400 reasons why this plan would not work; we didn’t have enough time, we didn’t have a plant, we didn’t have a website, and we didn’t have a box. But one colleague finally said to me, ‘You guys can continue doing this negative brainstorming all day, or you can just leave and decide how to make this happen,'” Fleischer says.

Instead of repeatedly identifying and dwelling on the problem, in an effort to find solutions, Chen and Fleischer decided to bring a team of positive brainstormers together. This team consisted of Mondelēz’s long-time agency partner, The Martin Agency, and MAYA Design, the tech design firm that was involved in the Trending Vending Machine at South by Southwest. They also collaborated with HP marketing executive, Doris Brown-Mcnally, to figure out the appropriate printing technologies required to execute this concept. After leasing a warehouse on a Monday, in two days, the Colorfilled team managed to convert the space into a functioning Oreo factory, opening its doors by Wednesday of the same week.


Using Mondelēz International’s proven formula for excellence, creativity and innovation were able to operate at the speed of culture, thus allowing the Colorfilled initiative to successfully come into fruition quickly, in spite of lingering doubts.

Oreo Colorfilled is small version of a start-up business that is part of a larger conglomerate. Such isolation provides employees a level of freedom that encourages the initiation of projects based on passion.

“I’m a start-up resident at Mondelēz International. You can manage a big political organization – that’s an amazing skill -or you can operate something on your own,” Fleischer notes.

The future

Oreo Colorfilled is just the start of the cookie brand’s e-commerce journey. Going forward, the company will continue to encourage in-house marketers to be fearless in order to optimize mobile and social commerce by effectively incorporating personalization and real-time marketing into campaign strategy.

Today Oreo fans can customize the packing – tomorrow they may even be able to customize flavors on an individual basis.

“How can we take Oreo to the next level as a power brand? 30 percent of our consumers are interested in personalization,” Chen says.

The company will also keep an eye on interface free shopping tools – such as the Amazon Dash Button – and achieve the same disruptive, revolutionary status through innovation within the snack industry.