Saccharine Vanzetti: Lessons you can learn from the Oreo-inspired miscarriage of journalism

"It's OK, Honey. Oreo says we cant still dunk in the dark. Can you bring back my glass of mill, please?" Oreo to launch two new cookie flavorsNew York Daily News

A New Oreo Rises! And It Will Probably Be As Addictive As CocaineEsquire Magazine

“It seems impossible to improve on the Oreo but Nabisco is giving the classic cookie a new twist, launching limited edition cookie dough and marshmallow crispy flavors.”NBC’s Today Show

To paraphrase Woody Allen, if Walter Cronkite came back and saw what was passing for journalism today, he’d never stop throwing up.

I don’t blame the good folks at Nabisco. They’re just doing their job, and doing it damn well, I might add. The fault lies squarely with the (generally) young and (astonishingly) naïve “journalists” who seem to have learned everything they needed to know about investigative reporting from Perez Hilton “exclusives.”

But this is the world we live in, so let’s make the best of it.

Following is an excerpt from our book, The TV Guide to Telling Your Organization’s Story, that should give you some insight into Oreo's 21st century thinking.

The Oreo. It’s not just a cookie. It’s a flash mob. It’s a meme. It’s a YouTube sensation. It’s a Twitter genius. It’s a Facebook monster. It’s milk’s favorite cookie.

It wasn’t always this way. Oreo's used to be just a snack, like Twinkies, Ring Dings and Devil Dogs. But while Nabisco was celebrating Oreo’s 100th birthday with flash mobs and online events, Hostess was filing for bankruptcy protection, which briefly killed off the much-maligned Twinkie at the relatively young age of 82. (The Hostess bankruptcy also put Drakes Cakes out of business, shutting down—at least temporarily—the Ring Ding and Devil Dog assembly line.)

How did Oreo's become a global Internet sensation just as Hostess was throwing in the apron? Because Nabisco used social media to tell the story they wanted to tell that would resonate with the audiences they needed to reach. They carefully planned and deftly executed intricate campaigns and skillfully seized unexpected opportunities. And they did it creatively, humorously, and relentlessly.

It wasn’t a story about sweet white stuff slapped between two black wafers. It was a story about your experience with their cookie. For Baby Boomers, the story was a nostalgic trip back to childhood. For the Millennials, the story was exciting, edgy and often political. And for the young ones, it was a story about Grandma and imagination.

Hostess, on the other hand, allowed the Twinkie story to be told by others. And we know how well that turned out.

And it isn't just thoughtful planning. Team Oreo also seizes opportunity--swiftly. During the 2013 Super Bowl (the night that the lights went out in Nawlins), Oreo carped the diem by conceiving, creating, approving, and tweeting a graphic ad that capitalized on the Superdome’s power struggle in just five minutes. The ad got re-tweeted thousands of times, and the brilliant marketing move was talked about worldwide. For free.

According to The Washington Post, Oreo’s ad team “required that ad agency and client executives be at the same place at the same time” which was a “social-media command center” at its digital ad agency 360i in NYC.

That is the reality of storytelling today. You’ve got to be quick. You’ve got to be relevant. And you have got to execute. The days of “running it by legal” are over.