DNA, Deccan Herald, and Business Standard, among other media houses, fell for it and filed stories based on the advertorial.
Oreo’s Dussehra print ad in The Times of India (TOI), masquerading as a regular front page, on 5 September 2022 did its bit and more.
Not only did it catch people’s eye first thing in the morning, major media houses such as Business Standard and Deccan Herald feel for it and went on to file stories based on the articles from the front page on their websites.
TOI’s font page was a replica of 3 April 2011, the day after India won the Men’s Cricket World Cup. The lead story in the top half detailed India’s victory against Sri Lanka.
The lower half carried a piece on the CBI naming then Union Minister A Raja and others in the 2G scam.
There were two significant giveaways the front page was not genuine and maybe it was an advertorial. For starters, the date read 3 April 2011. The second clue was the Consume Connect Initiative tag printed below the masthead on the newspaper’s top right hand side.
As the day passed, newspapers such as Business Standard, Deccan Herald, and IANS fell for it and filed stories or updated existing ones based on the 2G scam article printed on the fake TOI front page.
However, why did Oreo decide to pull off such a stunt? One only needs to turn the page to realise why. “Today’s front is not a mistake. TOI is joining Oreo to #BringBack2011 to help Team India bring back the Cup. Oreo is launching itself again in 2022 because when it launched in 2011, Team India won,” said Oreo.
The ICC T20 Men’s Cricket World Cup is scheduled from 16 October 2022 to 13 November 2022. Oreo had launched in 2011 and Indian won the cup that very year. So, the brand wanted to do a repeat and therefore the relaunch.
Following this statement was a Q&A feature between Anil Viswanathan, CMO, Mondelez India and Sunainika Singh, director, Biscuits and Bakes, Mondelez India. The conversation between the two explained the rationale behind such a campaign.
To promote the relaunch of Oreo, brand ambassador MS Dhoni (the World Cup winning captain) had called a press conference a couple of weeks ago. It caused much speculation before the true reason was revealed.
Other than the gaffe from media houses, two interesting aspects of the print ad are worth a mention. One, The lead story was about India defeating Sri Lanka and on Dussehra, North India celebrates the festival by burning an effigy of Ravana, the demon king of Lanka (now Sri Lanka) remembering Rama’s victory over him.
Second, the winning team’s photograph was front and centre; only two players i.e. Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin still play for the national team out of the 15 players featured in the shot.