Twist, Lick, Dunk: A Tumblr Story

Oreo Showing Pride

Tumblr won’t soon forget the day America’s favorite cookie came out.

On June 25th, to promote the year of Oreo’s 100th birthday, Nabisco lent its cookie some currency: The company tweeted the image of a six-layered cookie, with crèmes the color of the rainbow, above a simple caption – “Pride.”

“We feel the Oreo ad is a fun reflection of our values,” a Kraft spokesman later told reporters. The cookie, the company said, illustrated ‘in a fun and playful way’ an issue that was making history.

The image lit up the social web. This post, and two that follow, explore conversations on Tumblr through the lens of Oreo. Part Two looks at how the episode touched other brands on the network. Part Three dives into the dynamics of Tumblr conversations and how they diverge from other platforms.

The image itself touched a vein. Opponents to marriage equality took to Oreo’s accounts on Facebook and Twitter to slam Nabisco and threaten boycott.

“[U]nliking oreo, cleaning out cupboard, changing buying habits, no more Oreo’s, and it’s parent company,” one user wrote.

“I will never eat an oreo again! ew!” said another.

Those comments, and others, drew counter-protests, among them:

“[W]onderful job Oreo on supporting equal rights, just for that, now I’ll buy a pack today.”

“I believe I’m going to go buy every package of Oreos I see when I go grocery shopping. Kudos!!”

Within hours, Oreo found itself the subject of some 7,500 tweets. The conversation ramped to midnight EST, when the brand was pulling back some 2,000 tweets per hour.
Graph Demonstrating Twitter Volume Around Pride Oreo
Figure 1 shows hourly Twitter volumes around Oreo between June 18 and July 2.

Tumblr followed on the 26th. In three hours that night, the company drew more than 300 textual posts on the network, double what the brand had done each day the week before.

The talk stayed political: “Way to go Kraft!,” one post read, “However it is also eye-opening to see how many people are proud to show their hate, or belief that all Americans do not deserve equal rights.”

Graph Showing Tumblr Volume Around the Pride Oreo
Figure 2 shows hourly Tumblr volumes around Oreo between June 18 and July 2.

By then, the story had spilled. ABC, NBC, Reuters and the Washington Post amplified news of the flap. A conservative family group urged supporters to look elsewhere for cookies. Meanwhile, the image was slowly amassing more than 60,000 Facebook comments and close to 300,000 likes. Two social analytics companies would later call that conversation overwhelmingly positive – for Oreo.

For days on Tumblr, the story echoed. Median hourly Twitter volumes had returned to normal by the fracas’ fourth day. But on Tumblr, a full week after Oreo’s image went live, chatter remained triple the cookie’s prior volume.

In that way, the image marked a breakthrough for Oreo on Tumblr. At peak, the pride cookie generated 2.6 times Oreo’s median Twitter volume from the week prior. For Tumblr, that figure was 19.8.
Graph Demonstrating Increase in Tumblr Traffic After the Pride Oreo
Figure 3 shows the ratio between hourly platform volume around Oreo and typical hourly platform volumes between June 18 and July 2.

Oreo had long been a social brand. Before the pride cookie, it counted 26 million Facebook fans and tens of thousands of Twitter followers. On Tumblr, the cookie already outstripped its rivals. And in a move that may help the company retain that lead, Oreo can rely on, the brand’s official Tumblr presence. Its first posted image? June 25 – the pride cookie.

Graph Showing Oreo Compared to Other Cookie Brands on Tumblr

Figure 4 shows Oreo’s Tumblr lead over major cookie brands in the United States between June 18 and July 2.

But Oreo’s Tumblr story rippled beyond the cookie alone. That broadening – a central quality of the Tumblr platform – has implications for brands linked by product, demographic or, in this case, ideology. Return for more in Part Two.