THE MARKETING 100: OREO: VICKI CAREY

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People send Vicki Carey pictures of babies with chocolate-smeared faces and mouths full of cookies. Moms across the U.S. tell her about their fond memories of the classic treat. For Ms. Carey, 33, business director of cookies at Nabisco Foods, these are signs she's doing her job right.

At age 85, the Oreo brand is stronger than ever. With sales increasing 12% from March 1996 to March 1997, her success is a reminder to marketers that a mature brand can stay fresh.

For Ms. Carey, the success of Oreo is no surprise. It's just the way this particular cookie crumbles.

"New Oreo consumers are being born every year," she says. "We want to create a new generation of twisters, lickers and dunkers."

Ms. Carey has worked to keep the brand relevant to kids by introducing new Oreo products, and by creating excitement about the brand through contests and events.

A new Spring Oreo was released in 1996 with blue cream filling, following the success of the Holiday and Halloween Oreos in 1995. The Spring Oreo was linked to an Internet contest where people could vote for the new color.

Nabisco also has focused on product licensing to keep the brand thriving. Oreo has been used in various food products, such as ice cream, Pillsbury pie crusts and desserts in restaurants like Bennigan's and TGI Friday's.

"One of the goals is ubiquity, and to get Oreo everywhere we can," Ms. Carey says.

Oreo uses the tagline "Only Oreo" in ads from Foote, Cone & Belding, New York, and marketing to enforce the idea that "Oreo is a unique cookie" and "Only Oreo can bring you so many things," Ms. Carey says.

"Oreo is really the quintessential cookie," Ms. Carey says. "It is the most fun, it has the most play value, it is the most emotionally gratifying."

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