How the Ford Maverick team’s enthusiasm for Oreos led to sneaky, new Oreo packaging, giveaway
Hack your Maverick: DIY Bike RackHack your Maverick: DIY Bike RackUSA TODAY HandoutFord has earned a reputation for building and selling bazillions of pickup trucks, which today are the financial backbone of the 118-year-old automaker.Already its all-new little bitty hybrid pickup is creating a whole new buzz, and the development team revealed that Oreo cookies played an integral role in fueling them while they worked. In the five weeks since Maverick was revealed, consumers have placed 74,100 reservations for the 2022 Ford Maverick pickup, Hannah Ooms told the Free Press on Friday morning.While that’s a really big deal, this story is about what helped Ford find success with this project. And that’s where Oreo cookies and a giveaway with sneaky packaging comes into play.The Ford team worked secretly in the bowels of the Ford Product Development Center complex off Village Road in Dearborn for about three years in a hidden room where spare parts had been stored. It was a team of about 60 people led by chief engineer Chris Mazur that developed the engineering, design, product development, purchasing, supply chain and finance strategy for the Maverick.While all official duties were assigned, Katie Pecoraro realized something was missing.In the case of the Ford Maverick team, food played a huge role.”We cut 20 months out of the usual time frame for a product life cycle,” said Pecoraro, Maverick program management supervisor. The team was working as quickly as possible to surprise consumers and Wall Street and create a popular compact truck in the U.S. News of the unexpected product stunned everybody. “Most of our design and studio appearance work is done in the early stages. Our last year is developing prototypes and doing hands-on work. We were in this space, one big cross-functional team sitting in a huge room which is something we’ve never done before — just working together as a bunch of different disciplines. This being a go-fast product, we used different ways of working to be more efficient and effective. High-level management members came to us to work through milestones, rather than going through months of a different cadence.”Ford’s new approach: Buy now, get the chip later? Ford could start shipping unchipped vehicles to dealersFord Bronco: Long-awaited Ford Bronco starts shipping, filling 125,000 ordersAt the end, the team had an eight-week sprint: This was a “pencils down” period in the process when no more changes could be made because suppliers needed to make their parts. People were working 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on-site.”That portion of time is pretty intense,” Pecoraro told the Free Press. “So I wanted to think of fun things to keep us focused. I kind of liken myself to the mom of the team, and I like to focus on morale. That means always having some sort of food on hand.”They had honored national hot dog day, grilled cheese day and taco day. On St. Patrick’s Day, the team had corned beef. They held a chili cook-off.”We did idea generation over ice cream sundaes,” she said. “We used food in many different ways. Oreos, that was our main thing. We ate a lot of Starburst candy. We had bakers who brought things. I made chocolate chip cookies. We had doughnuts.”Pecoraro recalled a post-holiday salad bar event in January 2020. A healthy day.”I tried to have some balance but it was mostly junk food. We had a lot of Cheez-Its and peanut M&Ms,” she said. “I think just from a daily operations standpoint, having something in the afternoon to get through the afternoon slump, a little pick-me-up, helps.”But nothing took center stage like Oreo cookies. And not just classic Oreos but every flavor imaginable. (Warning: This next part may gross out some readers.)”I am a variety person,” said Pecoraro, who considers herself an Oreo aficionado. “We had chocolate peanut butter pie. One of my favorites was a limited-edition watermelon, which we didn’t actually serve. But we had maple, carrot cake, mint, red velvet, birthday cake, s’mores, rocky road. They had apple pie Oreos, where the actual cookie was graham cracker.”The team went through 100 packages of Oreos in the final weeks. Team members tacked Oreo cookie wrappers on the walls. “It just became kind of a fun thing. I can’t explain it,” Pecoraro said. “I have no less than six flavors of Oreos in my house at any time.”Pecoraro, 45, of Ann Arbor is the niece and granddaughter of Ford line workers.”Baking is my hobby,” she said. “I have two teenage boys who can consume anything. I love to bake and be a room mom for them. Just like doing that kind of stuff.”Oreo steps inAnd then Oreo heard about its role in the Maverick development and decided to include Ford in a curious limited promotion called the “Oreo Thins Protection Program” that involves giving away packages of its thin Oreos over 10 days in special wrapping designed to keep the cookies hidden from sneaky children.Oreo chose Ford, Hanes, Green Giant, and Better Homes and Gardens as partners to promote its lighter version of the chocolate sandwich cookie with a fluffy white icing filling. The cookie company is creating 3,000 packages of cookies that will be given away in a random drawing to people who post images of creative hiding places for Oreo cookies on Twitter or Instagram.Winners may get the cookies in a package designed like a Ford Maverick owners manual that fits in the glove box or packages designed like Green Giant frozen riced cauliflower or a Hanes T-shirt package or a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Winners will get a direct message with news from Oreo. “Ford is one of the most recognizable and popular vehicle brands in America, making it a great partner for this campaign,” Sydney Kranzmann, Oreo brand manager, told the Free Press. “Unless cookie thieves have a special interest in vehicle mechanics, they won’t be snooping through the glove compartment or think twice about seeing the spine of the all-new Ford Maverick owner’s manual in their vehicle.”None of these packages are available in stores.The Maverick’s target audience of millennial parents overlaps with the same parents that Oreo is targeting, Kranzmann said. “… We’ve also heard from Ford that Oreo cookies powered the team that developed the all-new Ford Maverick — apparently they enjoyed our cookies during their long meetings as they optimized the vehicle and proudly displayed the pack wrappers on the wall.”No strings attachedThe Oreo promotion just started this week, with Oreo inviting cookie fans to enter for a chance to win the limited-edition Oreo Thins Camo pack. To enter, people must share their most creative hiding spot on Twitter or Instagram and use #ThinsProtectionProgram and @Oreo. The sweepstakes runs through July 23. Anyone who reveals a secret hiding spot and uses the hashtag and tags Oreo will automatically be entered to win the one grand prize of $25,000 — just enough money to buy a Ford Maverick.