Marketing Improvisation: Advertisers & the Super Bowl Blackout

Marketing Improvisation: Advertisers & the Super Bowl Blackout

How can you possibly be prepared for the lights to go out at the Super Bowl? Oreo did just that. After 34 minutes, the lights were restored to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. By that time Oreo had brainstormed, created, and published their response to the incident with one very well placed tweet. The fascinating part of this incident is how it all played out.

How did it work?
Months before the kick-off, Oreo paid a premium to one of advertising’s hottest firms Wieden & Kennedy to create a unique commercial to “standout” in the myriad incredible and odd advertisements which are the primary draw for many who watch the Super Bowl. Then Oreo paid the nearly $4 million-dollar price tag for the privilege to air their spot to the 108+ million viewers.  While everything with their planned advertising worked, the overall effect of their prized commercial was lacking much acclaim; yet, they were prepared for more. During the 34 minutes of the Super Bowl “black out” the advertising magicians behind Oreo created a winning tweet campaign.

“The Oreo graphic was “designed, captioned and approved within minutes,” according to Sarah Hofstetter, president of the cookie brand’s digital agency of record, Dentsu-owned 360i. All the decisions were made in real time quickly because marketers and agency members were sitting together at a “mission control” center, or a social-media war room of sorts, at the agency’s headquarters in the TriBeCa neighborhood of Manhattan. Among those who were there were two brand team members from Oreo, and nearly a dozen creatives, strategists, community managers and social-media listeners.” NewsFeed By

The results were viral.
Within one hour, the single tweet from Oreo had been retweeted (or shared for those not familiar with twitter) over 10,000 times. The buzz continued throughout the following hours and at the time of this article – 2 days later – the “favorite” count is nearly 6,000 and the retweets have hit nearly hit 16,000. The reach of this single “free” advertisement will in the end have a larger impact than their TV commercial. The question could be posed – would the virality of the post have ever caught on if Oreo were not already a “player” in the Super Bowl?

“There needs to be enough nuanced understanding of the audience, a cultural fluency really, to understand what signals in the market to respond to. Whether it’s a shift in sentiment, traffic flow, response rate, or a spike in a specific metric, the agency has to be intuitive enough to know what matters enough to respond to.  Then, it comes down to executional competency. Is the agency ready — staffed right, are the tools in place, are the processes worked out, is the client aligned — to move in something close to real time?”  Jim Cuene, senior marketing manager at General Mills. (source: Digiday)

Were there any other brands that acted in real time?
While Oreo had the most successful response to their real-time campaign, they were not the only players. Audi poked a jab at Mercedes by tweeting “Sending some LEDs to the @MBUSA Superdome right now…” and Tide with their tweet “We can’t get your #blackout, but we can get your stains out.” Another response came from Volkswagen who tweeted “Lost power during the Big Game… Don’t worry, #GetHappy.” These companies saw the opportunity and acted in real-time engaging their audience and growing their influence through retweets, favorites and shares.

The brands that responded to the Super Bowl blackout got positive attention and interactions from people. Clearly, planning and acting quickly paid off for them. Now it will be up to brands to take more risks with real time and put more procedures and the proper teams in place to make real time more than a one-off.  – (source: Digiday)

So what’s the big idea?
The reality that audiences view and react to situations in real time has always been a factor for advertising. The difference is that it hasn’t been until the social media revolution that there has been an active “back channel” to communicate with the audience. Now an individual or company can actively communicate about what happens in real time. This may seem like a “duh” statement, but there are so many companies that do nothing about this huge opportunity. Many look at the success of Oreo as only the tip of the iceberg and the beginning of a race. Being actively involved in social media is a huge advantage for companies. It is events like these that will start the trend for the masses to follow.  Social media is no longer the “future”, rather it is only a tool for those trend-setters who will effectively utilize the tool for its ability to communicate to an unlimited audience in real time.

“Being agile and responsive and being really good at it is going to mean agencies and brands have to change how they work. I think it’s possible, but it’s going to be painful. CMOs want to do it, but it’s going to take changing.” David Armano, manager director of Edelman Digital. (source: Digiday)

The lessons to take away from this
For the individual:

  1. Brands that interact with you through social media are trend setters that are on the cutting edge of what is possible. Follow these brands cause they are the leaders!

For the businessman and entrepreneur:

  1. Just as a car does little good without gasoline, so a Facebook account does little good if you don’t use it. We all know that social media is not a passing fad; it’s changed society forever. If you have not already – GET CONNECTED!
  2. While the tech-savvy and social trend setters have already been doing real-time engagement for a while, it’s not too late to get on the early band wagon!
  3. Create an environment that supports and engages the real-time opportunities that you and your company will face. As often as possible, be prepared like Oreo was, so that when faced with a situation, you can utilize it as an opportunity.
  4. To learn more, I would highly suggest the book “Real-Time Marketing & PR” by David Meerman Scott. For those on twitter follow David “@dmscott”

Branding & Design Social Media

3 responses to “Marketing Improvisation: Advertisers & the Super Bowl Blackout”

  1. Oreo definitely is a trendsetter. That was national and not to mention live TV and they managed to get it all together. The tweet was just genius too.

  2. Billy says:

    It can be a once in a lifetime experience, though. And it was done on purpose.

  3. Jessica says:

    Is it part of the promotions of Oreo? Maybe it was part of their marketing strategy.

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