What Was Nabisco Thinking?

I have a serious sweet tooth. Anyone who knows me, knows this. It’s bad…I mean so bad that I beg Brook to hide anything sweet so I don’t know it’s around.

So it was no surprise today when I decided to have an afternoon snack and reached for some Nilla Wafers that we recently purchased at our local grocery store. They’re classics and for some reason I feel like they are better for me than most cookies. So….win-win, right?


Without paying much attention, I open the new box of Nilla’s and dig in.

I take a bite of the first cookie and somethings….wrong.

No, I did not find a bug or a finger in my box of cookies, but the taste was way off. I could not place it right away, but something was wrong, so I grabbed another one.

Yup…same taste. What the hell? Is that LEMON? I swear its lemon, so I decide to look at the box to see what was going on.

And this is what I see:

At a quick glance…it looks a lot like a normal Nilla Wafers box, right?

Here’s the normal box for comparison:

Pretty damn similar, right?

What Was Nabisco Thinking?

Why didn’t it look more different?

Shouldn’t this have been obvious new product packaging?

Why wasn’t Nabisco doing a better job promoting their new product?

Who made these decisions?

Then it hit me….perhaps this was the plan all along! Maybe, just maybe Nabisco’s Nilla Wafer product owner had a stroke of genius.

Nabisco’s Product Marketing Team

Picture this.
Someone way high up at Nabisco (Mondelez International) has a wicked dream that Nilla Wafers should be lemon flavored. So, he pitches the idea to his boss. He wants samples mailed out to Nilla Wafer enthusiasts, he pitches influencers dancing around with lemon Nillas, digital campaigns, print, Times Square! You name it, and he wants it. “This is going to be huge!”, he tells her.

She replies, “Nilla Ned, your product does not make enough money to justify 10’s of millions of dollars for a new product launch. No dice.”

Nilla Ned is super bummed, but he’s not giving up! OH HELL NO! He has to find a way to make this work. So, he pulls his team together to brainstorm how to launch Lemon Nillas with little to no budget.

And Nancy in the corner has a plan.

What if we just made some small adjustments to the box and placed them right next to our current Nilla Wafer boxes in the store.

Mic drop.

Nilla Ned looks at Nancy with disgust. “How in the world is that going to work, Nancy?! No one will even notice, they’ll just pick it up thinking its regular Nilla Wafers and then……”


Nilla Ned’s eye get huge and the bulb above his head nearly explodes.

“By God Nancy, that is genius! We wont have to spend one damn dollar. Millions of shoppers pushing their carts in crowded grocery stores are going to swing by the Nillas, see all the familiar looking boxes and without even a thought, will grab the Lemon Nilla’s by accident. They won’t even notice until they get home, and open the box to enjoy their favorite cookie.” Ned exclaims.

As the team digests this idea over some cookies and milk, they come up with some scenarios.

Two things will happen:

  1. They friggin LOVE them and become big fans buying more boxes and telling all their friends about the new amazing, surprising Nillas.
  2. Or, like me, they wonder what the crap is going on, realize their mistake, and really, really want normal Nillas. Then they will go back to the store (or make note for the next time they go) and get A SECOND BOX of Nilla Wafers…making damn sure they right box is thrown into the cart!They friggin LOVE them and become big fans buying more boxes and telling all their friends about the new amazing, surprising Nillas.

Ned was thrilled. meeting adjourned, he and his team just came up with a genius way to launch a new product, increase unit sales and probably create a bit of buzz…for next to nothing.

Hence forth, Nancy was referred to as ‘Nilla Nancy’

You’re welcome.

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