W+K Plays for the Big Dough

With Velveeta recently added to its roster, is the shop primed to take bite out of Oreo, too?

With a shot at working on a Super Bowl spot for Oreo, the world’s No. 1 cookie, Portland, Ore.-based Wieden + Kennedy has again found itself with the chance to cross over into a leading role with a major marketer. The iconic sweet, like Old Spice at Procter & Gamble, could give Wieden a big stage to show off its creative mettle in a new category, less than two years after Kraft Foods first tapped the agency for a Velveeta assignment.

The Super Bowl showcase for Oreo, now marketed by Kraft snacks spinoff Mondelez, caps the brand’s yearlong centennial marketing pitch by lead agency Draftfcb, which is rivaling W+K for the plum Super Bowl assignment.

So how did Wieden get to compete for a marquee assignment in TV's priciest event? By leveraging smaller ones, for starters.

W+K got Velveeta Cheesy Skillets in March 2011 and that August released TV spots backed by online ads and social marketing. That extension was one of Kraft’s 10 top product launches last year, gaining more than 8 percent of the overall dry dinner mix category within three months, according to SymphonyIRI Group. Reflecting that success, this year W+K was given additional assignments like Velveeta Shells & Cheese and the brand’s original cheese loaf.

W+K also benefitted from a big change on the brand side.

With the Mondelez spinoff, Dana Anderson, the former Kraft svp of marketing strategy and communications who originally brought the agency on board, now has much more direct influence over Oreo. A big W+K supporter, she’s also brought on other smaller, more creative agencies. With the same title at Mondelez, she has responsibility for consumer insights and strategy, per a rep.

Kraft agency sources say they expect to see more creative jump balls like the one underway for Oreo. Other observers say big marketers like Mondelez and Kraft are in a better position to work with agencies that way.

“When you have multiple brands, you can afford to experiment to find the appropriate agency without disrupting that larger, more long-term relationship,” said Dick Roth, president of New York consultancy Roth Associates.

Mondelez obviously has the means to test out agency alternatives. Kraft hasn’t been in the Super Bowl since 2008 when it ran a Draftfcb spot for Planters. The next Super Bowl will be Mondelez’s first and calling upon W+K presumably carries little risk. The agency’s last two Chrysler spots were among the games’ most high-profile and popular.

“This is Mondelez taking out an insurance policy, considering all the money they’re spending on the Super Bowl,” said a roster source, referring to the Oreo competition. “Wieden + Kennedy has more experience (than Draftfcb) with the Super Bowl. They just want to make sure they get the best spot.”