(starting a heavy, slow clap...) Bravo Oreo, Bravo. I doff my cap to you. It's been three weeks since I returned from my very first "Davos of Digital," SXSW Interactive experience and Oreo still has everybody mainlining Xanax since the debut of their Trending Vending Lounge.
Now, before I dive any deeper, I must preface this by stating that I'm not single-finger, slam-typing this diatribe because I think Mondelez International (Oreo's parent company) party-fouled in any way with their activation. The concept, the machine and the experience—created by MAYA Design—is actually quite brilliant. (I know that Oreo has been waiting for my approval of this particular marketing initiative...you're welcome.) It is one of the most truly interactive and experiential marketing activations that I've ever seen or experienced. You engage visually, digitally, socially—with touch and finally with taste. The consumer is both affecting and being effected in one two-minute interaction.
Now, I didn't write any marketing textbooks, but I think that is absolutely the most desired result of any modern day experiential campaign. Furthermore, this particular program will be forever revered by hipster marketing nerds, congregating at the open bar at some BizBash or EM Summit for years as the first of its kind.
"Remember Oreo, 3D printing, South By, 2014? Totally bro. That was EPIC. I WAS THERE!" Right about here is where I start to get...pissed.
TRUTH BOMB: It's not 3D printing Oreos, friends.
I'm sorry, it's just not. It's a goddamn frosting dispenser. Yeah, I said it. If that is a 3D printer, then all of those bottles full of delicious, amber fluids I have in my cabinet can 3D print scotch. Hey French's, you don't sell mustard anymore...you sell squeezable 3D mustard printing machines! Sidebar: I am absolutely available to execute this new marketing strategy for you. See where I'm going with this?
I'm upset that both consumers and respected marketing professionals are so quick to accept old news with a fresh coat of paint on it as "new" and "first of its kind." Turn over some rocks, people. Don't do it to rain on somebody's parade, but do it to understand what's really happening. Marketing professionals everywhere are anointing this project with the "3D printing" label and nobody is doing any research. If Chuck Hull (Google it) were deceased, he'd be spinning in his grave.
Trade pubs like AdAge and Event Marketer along with mainstream periodicals like the Wall Street Journal are nonchalantly mislabeling this much to the benefit of Oreo. If House of Cards has taught me anything, it would be that A) don't cross The Underwoods and B) make sure you do your research before you publish anything. Sure, irresponsible journalism is much more costly on Capital Hill than at SXSW—ask Zoe Barnes (SPOILER ALERT) ...oh wait you can't because she's DEAD—but come on folks...
It's worth repeating that the program in its entirety is brilliant and extremely well executed, but all of the good stuff about the experience that we as marketing professionals live and die by is lost to the accidental success of the 3D printed Oreo lie. Ummm, yeah...impressions, engagement, data, ROI are nowhere to be found. Wait a minute...maybe, NO! They did that on purpose? WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT, bro! Those buzzwords that we all have tattooed on the inside of our hands so we don't forget them in pitch meetings are absent. Oreo's 3D printer/soft serve frosting dispenser machine has done one better than all of those words; it's changed the way we think. Well, isn't that what marketing is all about?
Bravo, Oreo...you magnificent bastards. You win—this time.