September 20, 2010: New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has often appeared in national ads alongside older brother Peyton, but he steps into the spotlight to lead an organization that has stocked itself with all-stars: the Oreo Double Stuf Racing League. Manning, who had been teamed on the DSLR with brother Peyton for several years, now leads a line-up that includes Shaquille O'Neal of the NBA's Boston Celtics, Olympic gold medal-winning speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno and tennis star Venus Williams, another DSRL veteran whose previous partner was her sister, Serena.
Parent company Kraft Foods confirmed that Peyton Manning and Serena Williams no longer have marketing deals with the company and that Kraft, Nabisco and Oreo executives decided to move the DSRL campaign forward without them.
The sales of Double Stuf are in a much stronger position today than when Peyton and Eli helped to launch the fictitious DSRL three years ago, showing double-digit improvements every year, according to Stephen Chirss, senior director of scale and marketing partnerships for Kraft Foods North America. Sisters Venus and Serena Williams came on board after that to keep the family theme going as they challenged the Manning Brothers for DSRL supremacy.
"We had a great relationship with both Peyton and Serena, but they are no longer part of the campaign," said Chriss. "They are focusing on other things and we have decided to go in a different direction, with Eli heading up a new team that still include Venus but also adds Shaquille O'Neal and Apolo Ohno. Having Peyton with us from the beginning worked well for us and gave the product great awareness with consumers, but we feel that with Eli and the others we have a very strong marketing program."
The quad group of stars are featured in a campaign breaking Sept. 20 in which they "challenge a mysterious hooded menace who threatens to overtake the league. The campaign's first 30-second spot follows Manning as he assembles his team to face "the lick racing nemesis. According to Nabisco, will be left to speculate about the "shadowy adversary" — described as a "notable celebrity — whose identity will not be revealed until January 2011.
Businessman Donald Trump previously faced off against athletes in the DSRL but, like Peyton Manning and Serena Williams, he is currently no where to be seen, as his deal with Kraft Foods also ended.
Support for the new campaign includes print, POP and Internet, led by a social media campaign on a dedicated Facebook/Oreo page in which consumers can enter a "Twist It" contest for an opportunity to met the DSRL athletes in person. (Full details here.) Lead agency is DraftFCB Chicago.
The campaign is supporting the launch of Double Stuf Oreo Heads or Tails cookies, which feature a chocolate wafer on one side and a vanilla wafer on the other, with the double creme in between.
"In Team DSRL we've assembled the most unique collaboration of world-class athletic talent I've ever seen," Eli Manning, who helped launch the campaign in 2008, said in a statement. "We may excel in different sports but when united behind an Oreo Double Stuf cookie and a glass of milk, we are a lick racing force to be reckoned with."
According to Shaquille O'Neal, "People don't realize how much precision, speed and concentration it takes to win a lick race. You may have seen me take down a backboard or two in my time, but I guarantee no shattered glass when I dunk my Double Stuf Oreo Heads or Tails."