How Oreo taught Indians to Twist, Lick and Dunk – Chella Pandyan, Associate VP, Biscuits, Cadbury India Ltd.


During the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII when a power outage at the Superdome caused some of the lights to go out for 34 minutes, the sandwich cookie’s social media team jumped on the cultural moment, tweeting an ad that read “Power Out? No problem” with a starkly-lit image of a solitary Oreo and the caption, “You can still dunk in the dark.” The message caught on almost immediately, getting about 15,000 retweets and more than 20,000 likes on Facebook – not quite Beyoncé halftime show numbers, but pretty impressive for a one-off joke made by a cookie. So how did Oreo put their own twist on the lights-out scenario so quickly? Turns out they had a 15-person social media team at the ready to respond to whatever happened online in response to the Super Bowl — whether it was a mind-blowing play or half the lights shutting off. So not only did they have a regular commercial run during the first quarter, they also had copywriters, a strategist, and artists ready to react to any situation in 10 minutes or less. That was about the States but Oreo has not left any leaf unturned when it comes to teaching the Indians to dunk their cookie the right way. From customizing the cookie to suit the Indian’s taste-buds to running campaigns all across India, Oreo has won the hearts of its Indian customer.

Intrigued by Oreo’s initiatives in India and its ‘Twist, Lick and Dunk’ ritual, EE got Chella Pandyan, Associate Vice President, Biscuits, Cadbury India Ltd, on how Oreo made its way to the Indian customer’s heart.

How has Cadbury Oreo’s journey been in India since its launch?

We have had a successful journey since the launch in February 2011 with great consumer response and a strong equity share. We launched the brand with classic Vanilla flavor and over the last two years introduced two more exciting variants – Choco Crème (2012) and Strawberry (2013) that have got good consumer response and strengthened our position in the category, making Oreo a much loved brand with Indian consumers. The consumer response to our whole mix so far has been great and we have been able to develop strong brand equity. What makes Oreo stand apart from the competition is its great chocolaty taste and the unique ritual of Twist lick and dunk. Our campaigns have captured the essence of the brand through different family relationships that tell the core Oreo story. These campaigns have been well-received by the consumers and helped us establish strong brand equity.

Oreo’s continuing endeavor is to extend its appeal and our brand ambassadors Ranbir Kapoor and Karthi have recently joined in the fun ride to take Oreo’s appeal to next level with the new “Connect Playfully” Campaign.

We have also partnered with some leading QSRs like McDonalds, Café Coffee Day, Kwality Wall’s - Swirls to bring the Oreo experience to more consumers and strengthen the brand recall.

Oreo India went on a bus tour to push the concept of togetherness among families across nine cities and it used a smaller vehicle for a similar campaign across 450 small towns. Please tell us more about this tour. Why was it important to have this two-way conversation with your consumers?

Oreo’s cultural mission is to liberate the spirit of childhood and believes that people connect deeply when they share something together.

Oreo ‘Family Togetherness Campaign’ – To make Oreo a catalyst for family togetherness and create a space for the brand in India, a phase-wise campaign titled “Oreo Family Togetherness” was conceptualized that included:

  • Oreo Togetherness Quotient: To establish credibility for Oreo to become a catalyst for the parent and child bond, a survey was commissioned for proprietary insights on today‘s parent and child relationship and the impact on society. The objective of the survey is to raise awareness of the issue and create the need for bonding

  • Oreo Togetherness Bus: A nation-wide movement that provided parents a platform to bond with their children. The Blue Oreo Togetherness Bus traveled across the country promoting the importance of spending quality time with family

  • Oreo Togetherness Pledge: A solution that encouraged parents to take the first step towards making a difference through a pledge

  • Oreo Togetherness Mela: We took the Oreo Togetherness Bus campaign to the next level with the Oreo Togetherness Mela. A blue Oreo branded van traveled across more than 600 towns, hosting fun activities and interactive games, based on Oreo’s much-loved ritual of ‘Twist, Lick and Dunk’ 

Oreo is driving point-of purchase sales with store displays and in-store promotions. Please tell us what all initiatives have been undertaken recently.

Oreo was the amongst the first few brands in the biscuit category to drive point of buying displays especially in front of store in traditional trade and it has enabled us to drive awareness and purchase.

Modern trade has been our key focus and our endeavor has been to deliver experiential shopping to our shoppers through messaging and sampling.

Just as McDonald’s is about hamburgers and Starbucks about coffee, Oreo is about its distinctive cookie. As time goes by, consumers change and the company needs growth. Sooner or later, the brand faces an existentialist dilemma. How does Oreo fight this battle?

Today Oreo is seen more than a biscuit by consumers. It is perceived as a fun snack for kids and teens, a family snack by moms and a mystery ingredient that enhances sweet snacking experience (shakes, donuts, pastries etc.). It stands out above all other biscuits with its unique taste and brand proposition of bringing families together. It’s our continuous endeavor to expand the brand’s narrative and consumption occasions through our marketing and communication initiatives.

How has the ‘twist, lick, dunk’ marketing campaign evolved over the years? In what ways has it built the brand? 

Oreo’s special ritual of ‘Twist, Lick, Dunk’ has been enjoyed by millions of consumers around the world for nearly hundred years. This Twist lick and Dunk ritual is core to the Oreo story. It is our signature ritual and has found its way in to the Indian consumers’ heart. While it started as an eating ritual, it is today seen as catalyst for bonding as it allows people to slow down and ­­­­– liberate the kid inside every one of us.

Recently, Oreo made a place for itself in the record books of Guinness World Records for Most people dunking cookies. The record-breaking event, conducted at IIT Powai in December 2013, during the institute’s cultural festival - MoodI, saw over 1796 people discovering the fun of enjoying Oreo in the ‘Twist, Lick, Dunk’ style together. The previous record was set in Argentina where 1503 people participated. With the Guinness World Records event, Oreo engaged more consumers in this unique ritual and brought alive the brand experience.

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