Oreo Crowdsources Final ‘Daily Twist’ Ad Live in Times Square

Anniversary of the high five wraps 100-day series

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Oreo concluded its "Daily Twist" campaign live in Times Square on Tuesday, as Draftfcb and 360i creatives working in a glass box whipped up the last of 100 daily ads, with the final topic—the anniversary of the first high five—being suggested and upvoted by consumers through social media.

With Advertising Week in full swing at the Times Center a few blocks south, Adweek visited the glass Oreo office, surrounded by curious onlookers, just before noon, where the creatives were monitoring the Oreo feeds and working on sketches. Earlier in the morning, the brand had asked its Twitter followers and Facebook fans to offer ideas for the final ad. By noon, the creatives had selected eight promising ideas from among the scores of submissions. An hour later, they put three of them to an online vote.

One finalist celebrated the original Twilight Zone series, which premiered on Oct. 2, 1959. A second idea was based on a current news story suggesting warp drive might be possible, and not just a sci-fi fantasy. But the anniversary of the first high five—supposedly between Dusty Baker and Glenn Burke of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Oct. 2, 1977—won the hearts of voters.

Conceptually strong and often executionally brilliant, the Daily Twist campaign—part of Oreo's yearlong 100th birthday celebration—has been a huge crowd-pleaser online. Each daily image has focused on a current-events story or historical anniversary tied to that date—everything from the Mars Rover landing to the opening of the Olympics to the 1969 moon landing—as illustrated through Oreos. The series began provocatively in June with a gay-pride ad and has been consistently creative—and according to the client, consistently engaging to its audience.

"Engagement with those Facebook posts increased 110 percent on average, which is huge," Cindy Chen, director of marketing for Oreo, told Adweek.

A print campaign earlier in the year used the iconic cookie to bring memorable moments of the past century to life, from the invention of the yoyo to the movie Jaws. "The Daily Twist campaign expanded on what we had, and brought it to life in real time," said Chen.

Early each morning for the past 100 days, the Oreo brand team would brainstorm ideas with Draftfcb and 360i—and then the agencies would set an execution in motion. They had a few pre-planned ideas based on events they knew in advance, like the Olympics, but most were generated on the fly. "We would mull over which ones felt right for the brand, and which ones might lead to a creative execution that everybody's going to be proud of," said Jill Applebaum, creative director at Draftfcb.

Once they decided on a topic, they would sketch out ideas for how to illustrate it—usually generating at least three strong possibilities.

In some cases, the final executions, posted on a dedicated Oreo Daily Twist site, weren't just static but had animated elements—which 360i would develop. "Some were good to go instantly. Others took some time," said Adam Kerj, chief creative officer at 360i. "As good as each idea was, we were always asking, How do we make sure people engage and interact with the idea?"

The real-time element added a palpable sense of pressure to the brainstorming sessions. "It's nerve wracking, but it's also so exciting," said Chen. "What I'm most proud of is, you have such a short period of time, and you have the brand team, the agencies, the legal team, the PR team all working together closely. So, it wasn't just the real-time element, it was the integration of the brand team and the agencies."

The brand and the creatives have various theories about why these ads popped so much in the cultural consciousness. Partly it's the irrepressible visual style—minimalist, cartoony and often very clever. Partly it's the connection to popular topics in the news. But Applebaum says there's another simpler reason.

"There's so much bad news out there all the time," she said. "Through the Oreo filter, we get to deliver a piece of happiness, a piece of kid-like delight. I think people just feel joy when they see it."

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.