Oreo is Using APIs to Improve Digital Marketing

Janet Wagner, Data Journalist / Full Stack Developer
Jun. 02 2014, 11:13AM EDT

It's not often that Oreos and APIs are mentioned in the same article, let alone the same sentence. However, Oreo is using digital technology in innovative and groundbreaking ways to market the Oreo brand and build a huge and growing fan base. Oreo is using digital technology, fueled by APIs.

Just in the last week, Oreo announced the launch of a groundbreaking digital and social campaign in China with the idea of "bringing parents and their children together through technology." The Oreo Emoji Bonding campaign is aimed at parents that want to improve the amount of direct communication that they have with their children. For many parents in China, there is a lack of communication between themselves and their children because of China's very long working hours.

The Oreo WeChat app includes many photos of popular stars and celebrities that can be used to create their Emojis. - Image Credit: Oreo

The Oreo Emoji Bonding campaign began with the company opening an official branded account on WeChat, the most popular social media and mobile platform in China. The WeChat API makes it possible for developers to integrate the WeChat platform with third-party applications. WeChat also allows mobile apps to be built directly into a specific WeChat account.

Oreo created an app where users could take photos of themselves along with their children and then paste the heads from the photos into Oreo Emojis. The app includes many photos of popular stars and celebrities as well as a gallery of templates and actions that can be used to create the Emojis. The Emojis created by the Oreo WeChat App have turned out to be very popular and widely shared among app users. In addition, the Emojis can be projected onto the big screen of Oreo Bus Shelters that have been built in selected locations around major cities in China.

The Oreo WeChat app runs on the Tencent platform, which is described on the company website as "China's largest and most used Internet service portal." Tencent technology makes it possible for app users to create and share custom Emojis as well as interact with other users, all without leaving the app. "This was possible due to the utility and flexibility of Tencent’s Open API system - a new breakthrough in China’s social media environment" it states in the press release. The Emoji Bonding campaign has turned out to be a huge success for the Oreo brand. 99 million Emojies were generated in 11 weeks and the number continues to grow. In addition, 1.9 billion impressions have been made so far across WeChat, Weibo and other leading social networks.

Emojis can be projected onto the big screen of Oreo Bus Shelters that have been built in selected locations around major cities in China. - Image Credit: Oreo

The Emoji Bonding campaign and WeChat app are just the latest in a string of successful digital and social marketing campaigns for the Oreo brand. A few months ago at SXSW, Oreo introduced a vending machine that uses Raspberry Pi, 3D printing-like technology, and real-time Twitter trending topics to create personalized Oreo cookies. The Oreo vending machine features twelve different flavor options with matching coloring, and the choice chocolate or vanilla for the wafers. Users can also choose from four different patterns which allows for thousands of different custom Oreo cookie designs. B. Bonin Bough, VP of global media and consumer engagement at Mondelēz International, is quoted as calling this type of Oreo delivery system ”Trending Vending.”

In addition to using real-time trending topics on Twitter, the Oreo vending machine also includes WeChat functionality which allows users to communicate and send messages similar to WhatsApp. The social platform functionality and many other features of this cutting-edge piece of technological equipment are driven by APIs.

A few years ago, Kin Lane wrote an article that was published on ProgrammableWeb that predicted APIs having a key role in the rise of the 3D printing and manufacturing industry. In the article, Marty McGuire who is now a web developer for Adafruit Industries, states that:

"Feature-rich, open APIs are going to be critical to the future of 3D printing. We believe that APIs will allow people to share, print, remix, and re-share models quickly and seamlessly - across platforms modeling programs - and will lead to all new kinds of collaboration and innovation in 3D printing."

Another active digital and social media campaign by Oreo is the Snack Hacks video series which was announced by the company in April. The new video series is inspired by "the trend of remixing that is currently driving food culture." The aim of the Snack Hacks campaign is to find new and innovative ways to use Oreos in recipes and food creations. Videos of these Oreo hacks can be viewed on YouTube with accompanying image galleries on Tumblr.

When it comes to digital technology and brand marketing, Oreo is one of the most successful brands out there. At the time of this writing, Oreo has 36,309,599 Facebook fans, 349,000 Twitter followers, 53,245 YouTube subscribers, and 46,153,518 YouTube views. If Oreo continues with its innovative and groundbreaking digital brand engagement and marketing campaigns, the Oreo will forever be the "World's Favorite Cookie."

Janet Wagner Janet is a data journalist and full stack developer based in Toledo, Ohio. Her focus revolves around APIs, data visualization, machine learning, and data-driven journalism. Follow her on Twitter: @webcodepro and on Google+

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