The most memorable “ad” from last year’s Super Bowl didn’t come in the form of a TV commercial. It was a quick-thinking Tweet from the folks at Oreo. Expect lots of copycats this year.
Oreo was among the companies advertising during last year’s Super Bowl. But the brand received far more attention and accolades for a perfectly timed Tweet sent out when the power went out at the stadium, causing a delay in the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens. “Power out? No problem,” the message, posted on Twitter and the company Facebook feed, read. “You can still dunk in the dark.”
The message was retweeted and “liked” a bajillion times, making Oreo the envy of other brands, which had paid tens of millions only to be outdone by an idea cooked up and spread on the cheap in a matter of minutes.
It will be difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to match Oreo’s success from last year, if for no other reason than the basic idea of clever, real-time, reactionary marketing is now old. But that’s not going to stop tons of companies from trying to use Oreo’s playbook and score a major viral marketing win.
One reason Oreo was able to do what it did last year is that it had a team monitoring the game in something of a mission control room. With all the key players gathered in one place, they could develop, approve, and spread the message almost immediately.
This year, many brands are likewise preparing for the big game—meaning both the actual Super Bowl played on the field and the even bigger marketing game being played out before, during, and after the action on the gridiron—with teams whose job it is to monitor, react, and immediately engage with consumers via social media. “We’ve set up a pretty robust war room,” Justin Osborne, general manager of marketing communications for Volkswagen, explained to the Detroit Free Press. “This year, I think there will be a lot more emphasis on real-time marketing and reacting to what’s happening at the game.”
“We’ll see a huge spike in the number of brands that have command centers,” Mitch Germann of the marketing firm FleishmanHillard, told NBC News, “all ready to pull together content in real time.”
This quick-thinking real-time marketing ploy isn’t being limited to the Super Bowl. We saw it in effect during the Grammy Awards on Sunday night, when Pharrell Williams’ oversized Smokey the Bear-style hat drew snickering social media comments from thousands, none more noteworthy than the one from the fast-food restaurant chain Arby’s. “Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back? #GRAMMYs,” read the Twitter feed of the company, whose logo features a rounded cowboy hat resembling the large odd article of apparel atop Williams’ head.
“If there was one big winner at last night’s Grammy Awards that was even more surprising than Daft Punk getting Album of the Year,” Adweek stated, “it was Arby’s scoring the tweet of the night.”