Twist, Lick, Transform


Ask 10 different people from 10 different countries what their favourite cookie/biscuit is and you’ll likely get 10 different answers – and each one can’t be found anywhere but their home country. Local, entrenched brands that were served across generations and passed down in tradition still have loyal followings that major global brands have been unable to break. Every culture has its favourite – each with its own story, tradition, ritual and habits – and that’s not something you can easily change.

Oreo is the leading cookie brand in the US and is present in 100 countries; it’s the gold standard in the States and well known around the world. In this case, “well known” means that it still trails behind a multitude of local brands. The problem for the iconic cookie brand isn’t awareness; it simply is getting people to buy it. It needed to connect Oreo with an equally compelling global icon in order to appeal to a new generation of consumers. Parents were already familiar, but the tradition of ‘twist, lick, dunk’ felt dated to the new Gen Z consumer. So how could Oreo drive relevance, purchase and excitement with one big idea?


Gen Z is the most technologically savvy group of kids in history and they are used to touching responsive screens that draw them into a world of adventure and fun. Kids reach out to every screen now expecting it to ignite their imagination. So the brand set out to find a screen enabled experience that would bring more high tech fun to Twist-Lick-Dunk.

SMG created a partnership with the Transformers: Age of Extinction. One icon deserves another, and Transformers was a pop culture event that would simultaneously become available for billions of people around the world. You want a new way to play? How about by igniting kids imagination about the power of transformation?

The movie was expected to be a smash at the box office around the globe, even premiering in China with a version shot and edited specifically for the country. This was no post-edit makeover for a specific market, this would be the first movie of its size to have a script and scenes shot specifically for an audience. And it was in that spirit that it wanted to pair Transformers with Oreo. How do you fight the ghosts of tradition? You enlist giant robots and give them a little help from an iconic cookie.


Twist-Lick-Transform – with this as the guide, the agency created the opportunity for Oreo to transform the cookie eating occasion into a amazing interactive and high tech ritual that reignited the imagination of the consumer and reinvented the experience.

The agency developed a customisable and scalable programme that was unveiled across media and point-of-sale. Oreo was no longer a cookie, it had transformed into something new. In social, it created bite-sized custom content that played off of the look and feel of the film, but with a uniquely Oreo twist to recreate ‘dunk’splosions from the film. In mobile, we developed a totally custom game featuring Optimus and other Autobots that worked in conjunction with the popular Twist-Lick-Dunk Oreo game. The app created new game worlds and transformed normal Oreos into Transformer-themed Oreo game pieces.

In-store, the Autobots transformed from car to robot to cookie with packaging and point of sale that became an experience unto itself. In addition to an exclusive Oreo Transformers flavour, hyped by custom graphics, cookie embossments, theatrical POS and on the ground customer programming, the display itself became an augmented reality game. When the display’s QR code was scanned, consumers played as Optimus Prime and Bumblebee through an in-store battle.

Lastly, it wanted original content and assets that could be tailored and unveiled across markets around the globe. To truly become part of the Transformers experience, Oreo’s leadership in China, Latin America and the US worked with the movie franchise mastermind, Michael Bay himself, to direct a 30-second battle between Optimus Prime and the evil Decepticons. And during a pivotal scene in the theatrical movie, an Oreo vending machine transformed into a robot to help Optimus and show the world that he wasn’t alone in the fight. 


Oreo saw unprecedented levels of growth in markets that the brand had yet to find success. Over 45 countries participated and all markets far exceeded sales goals. Oreo saw overall sales growth of 25% globally and social media results beat anything Oreo had done in its iconic social media history. US saw 60% growth during the campaign window, with downloads of the game up 35% and total opens of the app up +2,000% vs. pre-T4 levels.  Sales growth in the UK exceeded 64% and was the largest ever promotion in ASDA.  China sales were up nearly 53% with unprecedented levels of participation with the interactive displays.

Global social content shares were up to 6X higher than benchmarks. The custom commercial resulted in more than 22M YouTube views and 279M impressions with China accounting for 208M impressions alone. In the end, 100MM movie-themed packages, 300MM embossed cookies and over 9,000 custom displays were used worldwide.

This wasn’t just another movie partnership; instead it demonstrated the power of working as one global team to accomplish amazing results. With this partnership, Oreo far exceeded the goals set forth at the beginning of the project and set the benchmark for global projects in the future.

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