For the past two months, Oreo has been cheered on for its on-the-fly ad during the Super Bowl Blackout, which many saw as evidence of the power of “real-time marketing” and “the brand newsroom.” Others wondered if it an overblow anomaly—just a brand lucky to be retweeted 17,000 times.
It was no anomaly. Since the Super Bowl, Oreo has been releasing a series of tongue-in-cheek videos about the “Oreo Separator Machine” that show that they really understand how to reach people online.
Oreo released the first Oreo Separator Machine video on Feb. 26, and it quickly went viral, earning over 4 million views. The four-minute long video is clearly made for the web consumption — not a commercial — and you can tell.
It stars “physicist” David Neeval, a copywriter at Weiden & Kennedy Portland, who has built an Oreo Separator Machine “entirely based on the dislike of crème and preference for cookie,” made out of wood, motors, floss, and a hatchet. Wearing an epic mustache, overalls and a hoodie, Neeval looks like a hipster god, and his deadpan narration is hilarious against the video’s faux-dramatic style, parodying the kind of tech documentaries you’ll find on the Sci-Fi and History channels.
- “I don’t have a catchphrase for my machine, but if I did have one I guess it could be something like ‘Let’s Get That Creme Outta There,’ or like, ‘This Creme’s No Good Get it Off the Cookie,’ or something.”
- “One of the hardest things to overcome was, um, to learn how to build robots and make them work. But it was also difficult to keep my hands and the back of my neck warm.”
- “It was big-time commitment to build the machine. I worked long hours. I didn’t get to see my girlfriend and dog for hours at a time sometimes. And I had to try and find, like, a good sandwich in this city and stuff. There were a lot of sacrifices I guess.”
The three subsequent videos in the series continue to focus on building an Oreo Seperator Machine.
Oreo Separator #2 features Bill and Barry, toy scientists from the University of Minnesota who build a machine to extract their respective favorite part of the cookie.
In Oreo Separator Machine #3, the art collective Dentaku fails spectacular with their wheel-separator machine.
Oreo Separator #4 stars a knife-wielding Robot Butler named HERB from Carnegie Mellon, who seems puzzled by why it’s so important to separate Oreo cookies from crème, but does it all the same.
The three sequels don’t match the comedic greatness of the original, but they all have ridiculous and amusing moments, and over 300,000 views per branded video is still a darn good performance.
In these videos, you can see an evolution for Oreo. Their last major campaign also placed a strong focus on the behavior of dunking an Oreo — licking and dunking it— but it didn’t have a strong social tie-in. The centerpiece of the campaign was the DSRL (Double Stuf Racing League) commercials, in which NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning competed to see who could lick the cream off a Double Stuff OREO the fastest and then dunk it.
The commercials were fairly amusing and a ridiculous — an above-average spot that you wouldn’t mind watching during a TV timeout — but not something that you’d go out of your way to watch.
Their new campaign centers on an inherently social question: Cookies or Crème? It’s a brilliant move because the social is baked in. Oreo don’t need to force engagement. They just need to ask people to state their preference, and people have responded in impressive numbers—whether through tweets, Facebook comments, or the #cremethis/#cookiethis Instagram photos that Oreo asked people to submit during it’s Super Bowl ad.
The Oreo Separator Machine videos allowed Oreo to dominate YouTube, too, and much of the blogosphere.
Now, Oreo is getting the highest form of Internet compliment — imitation. “Slingshot” Guy Joerg Sprave released a video of his own Oreo Separator Machine —an Oreo Separation Pump Gun — and it’s gotten over 420,000 views in three days. When you can get the web to take your campaign and run with it, you’ve done something truly special. Like Old Spice’s The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, this is going to be a campaign that we’re talking about for a long time.