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Oreo Launching 100th Birthday Campaign With Nascar

Tony Stewart to kick off Nationwide Series in cookie-branded car

Kraft has had a longtime marketing relationship with Nascar.

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Oreos turn 100 this year, and the brand is turning to longtime partner Nascar to help tease a new yearlong celebration launching next month.

Limited edition Birthday Oreos, which have rainbow sprinkles added to the standard vanilla cream filling, have already started to hit shelves, and the majority of the new advertising campaign around the anniversary won't launch until the sandwich cookie's official centennial on March 6. But this Saturday, A-list racing star Tony Stewart will trade in his regular Office Depot-sponsored Chevy Impala to drive a special-edition version of the same model painted in homage to Oreo's 100th at the Nationwide Drive4COPD 300 event in Daytona, kicking off the Nascar Nationwide Series.

Stewart, who signed a deal with Kraft in 2010, will unveil the new Oreo colors today at a press event—a "preseason preparty" with a to-scale cake in the shape of Stewart's Oreo Impala—in Daytona, Fla. (sister Nabisco brand Ritz is also getting space on the car). Stewart will return to his regular colors for the Daytona 500 on Sunday, which kicks off the Nascar's Sprint Cup Series, the racing association's highest profile schedule of events.

Why roll out a high-profile packaged-goods campaign at a Nascar event? The idea grew out of Kraft's longtime partnership with Nascar—the brand has been a sponsor since 2000—said Michael Tilley, associate director of consumer engagement at Kraft. "We've found that Nascar fans are very passionate about their sport," he said.

Nascar is heading into the 2012 season after 2011's ratings saw a sharp increase, ending a three-year decline. And while conventional wisdom would have the sport's audience skewing heavily male, Tilley said the gender gap isn't as wide as it's perceived to be. "The reality is we find that Nascar['s audience] is more balanced and all-family than most people would think,” he said. In other words, the partnership also reaches plenty of women, who are still generally believed to drive the majority of grocery store purchases—as well as other members of the household who, as Tilley put it, "influence" the shopping list—even though some reports have cases of men pushing carts on the rise

As for the rest of the new Oreo campaign, look for an integrated effort around "carefree moments of fun," Tilley said.