gay pride oreo

Kraft’s gay pride Oreo: Marketing genius or misstep?

Part of executing a clever and effective marketing strategy involves keeping track of current trends and headlines in the news. A company with their finger on the pulse of current events has a much better chance of coming up with a marketing campaign that resonates with a wide spectrum of potential customers and clients. An ad campaign that satirizes election season politics would have much more impact right now than in a year, for example. A campaign stylized as a mock presidential debate wouldn’t make much this time next year, would it?

Sometimes an ad campaign taps strikes a chord with the public, tapping into a national conversation filled with proponents and detractors.  This could be a potentially disastrous situation depending on the gravity of the subject matter and the angle of the marketing campaign, among other factors.

Kraft’s wildly popular chocolate and cream cookie, the Oreo, stumbled into just such a heated conversation in June. As part of a routine ad strategy, the Oreo company regularly posts themed pictures of their cookie onto their Facebook page in according with certain holidays, events, and special circumstances. It’s part of Oreo’s fairly standard web marketing strategy that conflates product placement with social media tools.

In late June, Oreo posted just such a picture onto their Facebook, one that was meant to support Gay Pride Month. Specifically, they uploaded a picture of an Oreo stacked with a rainbow colored cream meant to represent the rainbow flag iconic with gay pride and gay rights. The ad was aptly timed, because it came on the coattails of President Obama voicing his support for marriage equality, an event which generated widespread buzz across the web from supporters and detractors of marriage equality.

As you might expect, the comments on Oreo’s Facebook page exploded after the image was uploaded. Oreo isn’t exactly the most popular company-run Facebook page, but the posting of the rainbow Oreo generated thousands of comments (and likes), way more than the average image post from their page. Some people voiced enthusiasm over Oreo’s support of marriage equality, while others swore to never buy an Oreo ever again. An innocuous cookie was suddenly in the middle of a huge debate about a touchy political issue, drawing analysis from politicos, blog junkies, and pundits on both sides of the issue. For a brief moment Oreos were trending, and not because of their taste.

Whether or not the move was intended to draw such attention is unclear, but Oreo certainly did get attention over their bold advertising move. It’s every marketers dream to have customers talk about products with such zeal as people did with the Oreo after the posting of that image, but some may question the ethics of taking such a move. It’s always a precarious situation when a company takes a stance on a hot button social issue, and Oreo was no exception to that rule.

What’s your take on the rainbow Oreo?

What do you think about the rainbow Oreo? Do you think it’s a wise move for companies to take stances on social issues? Or do you think that that’s an avenue better left untraveled? Let me know!

Amanda Watson is well versed business blogger with a keen interest in how people earn their mba online. She believes that web entrepreneurship is critical to success in business. She can be reached at [email protected].

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