How the Most Epic Mars Mission Gets Turned into a Viral Ad, in One Oreo

More

Oreo commemorates Curiosity. (NB: "Red creme currently unavailable.")

[optional image description]
Daily Twist/Oreo

Among those celebrating the successful landing of NASA's Curiosity rover? Why, America's favorite sandwich cookie!

Oreo, Ad Week points out, is commemorating our Martian adventure with a cookie design -- not available, alas, in stories -- that pays tribute to Curiosity with Mars-red filling and distinctive rover tracks. 

On the one hand: cute! On the other, though: meh. The Curiosity cookie comes as part of Oreo's "Daily Twist" project -- yep, that of Pride cookie fame -- which has been offering often clever, sometimes topical, and always Oreo-centric designs every single day since June 25. Which means that sometimes, inevitably, the designers have to stretch to find topics for those designs. "Rescued Manatee Gives Birth," for example, is one of the project's news items. As is "Parent's Day." As is "International Joke Day."

So: grain of salt. Or blob of creme, as it were. Oreo, with its "Mars Rover Lands" cookie, has not necessarily brought the realm of space exploration to the all-too-human dominion of creme-filled snack foods. 

What's telling, though, is how casually the Oreo campaign, in its bid for virality, has merged the epic and the ordinary. Last night, we landed a robot on Mars. Today, a sandwich cookie celebrates that accomplishment. The fluidity here between history and banality -- and between science and pop culture -- is, actually, kind of wonderful. It represents an access point to a fairly complicated news story. It makes the epic seem accessible, and it makes the accessible seem just a little (teensy, tiny) bit epic. 

Oreo's purpose, obviously, is commercial: It's trying to create a viral ad campaign. But the brand is still managing to inform and excite people about the possibilities of space travel, even as it tries to sell cookies. And to do all that, Oreo didn't have to buy a TV ad or produce a radio spot or do much of anything that required advance investment. It simply imagined an image and then threw it up on the Internet. 

Jump to comments
Presented by

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In