One Direction’s 2013 North American tour has been sold out for nearly a year, ever since tickets went on sale just months after the British boy band’s American breakthrough in March 2012 when “Up All Night” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. But when the group hits the road June 13, it will have an equally huge brand partner in tow in the form of Mondelez International’s Nabisco, whose brands Chips Ahoy, Oreo, Trident, Ritz, Stride, Cheese Nips, Dentyne and Honey Maid are all sponsors of the One Direction North American Tour.
The sponsorship follows in a tradition that Nabisco brands have in aligning with major pop stars, from early tours with N Sync and Britney Spears to more recent outings with “Glee” in 2011 and “American Idol” in 2012. “We want to be laser-focused in who we work with,” says Stephen Chriss, senior director of U.S. media and consumer engagement at Mondelez International. “We might not be in music everyday like some brands, but we want to bring a lot of touchpoints to a lot of customers and leveraging One Direction will help us do that effectively.”
In addition to a heavy activation across all 35 North American dates of the One Direction tour, which wraps domestically Aug. 8 in Los Angeles, Nabisco will promote its association with the band across 20,000 in-store displays and 8,000 end-cap displays in retailers like Wal-mart, Target and Walgreens throughout the month of June. Over 20 million packages of Oreo, Ritz Bitz, Cheese Nips, Honey Maid and Chips Ahoy will feature the band on their packaging, along with a call-to-action driving to a fan sweepstakes and a special augmented reality code to unlock a “1D VIP” app on the iTunes store and Google Play.
Additionally, all five members of One Direction will appear in exclusive content on the 1D VIP app including video, soundbites, photos and more as part of Mondelez’s “nearly seven-figure” investment in social media, says Criss. The boys are also expected to tweet and post to Facebook on their personal pages on behalf of the Nabisco brands throughout the tour. “You gotta remember that Oreo is one of the leading brands on Facebook, with over 33 million fans, so Oreo as a brand will be tweeting and posting throughout the summer as well,” Criss says.
The initial discussions between One Direction, the band’s management Modest! and booking agency CAA began nearly a year ago, shortly after the North American dates sold out.
“Consumer packaged goods companies can only look in advance in a year, so once we looked at the demos and the planning cycles it all perfectly aligned,” says Tom Worcester, head of CAA’s music sponsorships group. “We have one of the hottest artists in the world to work with right now, and Mondelez has very fun brands that give exposure to a slightly older audience when you look at the kids taking their moms to the shows.”
One Direction has previously inked brand deals with Pepsi (a highly visible NFL commercial with Drew Brees), Nokia (for a line of branded phones in the U.K.), Colgate (One Direction toothpaste and singing toothbrushes) and Target (an exclusive deluxe edition of “Take Me Home”), despite a heavy dose of resistance from Modest! “I start off by saying no and then we sort of take it from there,” Richard Griffiths, co-founder of Modest! told Billboard in December of evaluating brand partnerships for One Direction. “We do get approached by everything, all the kind of brands you can imagine, and I think we’re trying to be as selective as we can.”
Beyond the North American tour, One Direction is prepping a 3D concert film/documentary, “This Is Us,” for release August 30. The film will not have a dedicated soundtrack, but the band’s publicist Mikey Navarra at Columbia tells Billboard a third studio album is expected later this year or early 2014 at the latest. The band is also knee-deep into scheduling stadium dates for its 2014, with the first wave announced three weeks ago.
Nabisco’s Oreo is also in the midst of another music-related campaign. The cookie brand debuted “Wonderfilled Anthem” during the May 12 episode of “Mad Men,” an original jingle penned by ad agency The Martin Agency and sung by Owl City. The company held a live performance of the jingle throughout New York that finished with Owl City’s Adam Young and over 100 singers performing the song in Union Square. David Muhlenfeld, a creative director at The Martin Agency who also created the jingle’s music and lyrics, said other artists from different genres will be featured in the campaign throughout the year.