Last week, I wrote about “culture-jacking” over at Authority Labs, and how Oreo, a large, corporate-sized brand, is killing it with their social media messaging despite their larger company size (which often creates problems when it comes to successful and timely marketing efforts). Responding to a newsworthy pop culture event in a quick and clever fashion isn’t easy, especially for a company with large departments and presumably various hoops to jump through (Marketing, Design, Legal, among others). Oreo, however, is proving that it can absolutely be done on a large-scale level, meaning smaller brands should be able to make it happen too.

Their “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet and ad amidst the Super Bowl third quarter blackout was creative, lightning-quick, and had mass appeal. This week, Oreo did it again, only this time they went slightly more niche. On Sunday the 85th Annual Academy Awards aired opposite AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead. While the Oscars enjoyed higher ratings than last year’s show (Sunday’s telecast attracted an average of 40.3 million viewers), The Walking Dead, the most-watched cable drama on television right now, is a formidable opponent. So who’s audacious enough to reference both the glitz and glam of the Oscars and the zombified, violent world depicted in The Walking Dead in one quick-hitting ad? Oreo, of course.

On Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead, season 3 villain The Governor, who recently lost an eye during a skirmish, debuted a new eye patch:

The Governor (played by David Morrissey)

In a subreddit dedicated to The Walking Dead, one user mentioned something along the lines of how The Governor’s new eye patch has the same look and texture as an Oreo cookie. I’m not sure if Oreo’s marketing team monitors the subreddit or if similar comments were made elsewhere, but shortly after the episode aired, Oreo whipped up this gem:


Brilliant. I have to give a round of applause to Oreo here — they successfully and cleverly referenced the evening’s two biggest events, the Oscars and The Walking Dead, in one succinct, catchy ad. It’s definitely more subtle than their Super Bowl blackout response; after all, despite The Walking Dead‘s success, it’s still a hell of a lot less popular than professional football. But I think there’s genius in Oreo’s subtlety — it feels like an “inside joke” to Walking Dead fans, and getting the joke makes viewers feel as if they’re in an exclusive club. Plus, passionate fans of the show are likely to share the ad with their friends and followers to highlight how cool Oreo is (I know I did).

So what’s the takeaway from all this? In my opinion, don’t be afraid to try something that’s a bit more niche. If you can identify a more dedicated yet passionate group to market to, you may resonate more strongly than if you were to create something broad to try and appeal to a larger demographic. Oreo’s multifaceted approach is creating a positive branding experience on both a large scale and a smaller, more specific level. When handling your reputation and your branding, you need to do the same — be diverse in your approach and your strategies so you can achieve success from multiple angles.