Brand Strategy

Oreo’s one-day Blockbuster takeover allowed people to experience 2007 all over again

The event marked the return of Oreo Cakesters after 10 years.
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Oreo

· 3 min read

If you haven’t heard, the early 2000s are back. And the content machine won’t let us forget it. (Did someone call for a How I Met Your Mother reboot or a new Juicy sweatsuit?) While nostalgia is nothing new, brands seem to be all-in on bringing back the past to reach millennials. Perhaps it’s because studies have shown it makes us feel better (and…spend more money).

For experiential marketing, which faced a brief hiatus due to Covid, the nostalgia angle seems to be still alive and well. Great news for anyone who’s visited a Limited Too pop-up. Or, more recently, an Oreo/Blockbuster collab straight out of 2007.

Rewind the tape

If you thought Blockbuster was dead, you’d be a) in good company and b) wrong. There’s one left in the small city of Bend, Oregon, and it’s been there since 2000. Today, it’s known fittingly as “the last Blockbuster on Earth.” In 2020, the team at Airbnb teamed up with the owners to offer a one-night stay at the store.

In January, the team at Oreo decided to follow suit, taking over the space for a one-day event to mark the return of Oreo Cakesters, which were discontinued in 2012, two years before the video-rental chain ceased operations.

We spoke via email with Justin Parnell, VP of marketing & strategy at Mondelēz International, about what went into the activation:

Turn back the clock: Rather than appealing to kids playing telephone at camp like they did when Cakesters started selling in 2007, Oreo went for nostalgia this time around. In other words, they targeted the adults who in 2007 had “killer bangs and low-rise jeans,” as noted in the promotional video. Parnell said it was “only fitting to ‘rewind time’ with a takeover of the only place in the US where it still feels like the mid-2000s.”

an image of Oreo's pop-up store with Blockbuster from the outside

Oreo

Entering a time warp: According to Parnell, the team “burned the midnight oil to set up everything in about three days” for the January 7 takeover. Visitors were greeted by a marquee telling them, “It’s 2007 all over again” before walking in. While stepping inside the last Blockbuster already feels like entering a different era, Oreo took it a step further by filling the store with VHS tapes, which Blockbuster started phasing out in 2001. On each tape was a fake movie poster incorporating Cakester in some way, like Cakesters: Resurrection and Cakesters 2: Back At It Again. Posters for the fake movies could also be seen around the store.

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How the cookies stacked up: Parnell said the activation was “all about generating awareness and anticipation” around Cakesters’ return. All in all, he said the team was happy with the results, driving more than 250 media placements with 300+ million earned media impressions and nearly 13 million video views across Oreo’s social channels, including Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook. He said they also beat their engagement benchmarks on Twitter and TikTok. While he didn’t confirm in-person headcount, Parnell said the store receives around 450 visitors on a typical Friday.

a bunch of fake movies involving Oreo Cakester

Oreo

Icing on the Cakester: “Getting the opportunity to work so closely with Sandi Harding, the store manager, was truly a high point for us. She’s a local celebrity in her own right and has built such an amazing family at the store,” Parnell said, adding that “the last Blockbuster is like a piece of our history, so getting to be a part of theirs is something we’ll always be proud of.”

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