Skip to main content

How Oreo's rapid-response team lit up Twitter with a Super Bowl blackout ad

How Oreo's rapid-response team lit up Twitter with a Super Bowl blackout ad


When darkness falls, ad agencies spring into action

Share this story

Oreo stock
Oreo stock

The Super Bowl, America's annual celebration of the gridiron game, tends to be the most expensive day on any advertiser's calendar. Or maybe not. Oreo Cookies took a novel approach to its marketing during the big game last night by keeping its advertising team in the office, ready to respond to any unusual events during the match. Such an opportunity arose when the power inside New Orleans' Superdome went out, and the marketing minds quickly set to work on producing a poster ad for their product that played off that anomalous incident. After only a brief time, Oreo's Twitter account was up and tweeting the "You can still dunk in the dark" image, which resonated with Twitter users and has so far resulted in more than 14,000 retweets.

Comparing that sort of social promotion to the widespread awareness that results from buying multimillion-dollar TV spots during half-time may be hard to do, but there's no denying that Oreo got a lot of value for its money by just keeping on its toes and reacting swiftly. Having its ad agency and a few responsible execs around during the game proved to be enough to generate an enormous deal of social buzz.

Oreo wasn't alone, of course, as plenty of other brands sought to tweet something witty associating their products to happenings inside the dome, but it was the cookie company that won big with its rapid response marketing team. David Armano, Managing Director of Edelman Digital Chicago, says this type of reactive — rather than proactive, where the ads are created in advance — advertising is a growing trend, but it's also only one part of an overall shift in the industry. Companies like his, charged with expanding awareness about their client brands, are now increasingly operating like media outfits: complete with newsroom-like real-time tracking of news and popular discussions, which can be responded to instantaneously with a sharply written tweet or Facebook update.

Ad makers are now operating like media companies in their pursuit of relevance

In fact, David himself was busy conducting just such an operation with during the game last night, though the big difference between him and Oreo, he says, was in that he didn't have an art director on hand in order to produce visual content as the confectionery vendor did. It's this extra layer of artistic sheen that helped propel Oreo's otherwise extremely simple ad to such success, and it's that rapid turnaround on creative content that's likely to prove most disruptive to the traditional ad media.

Capturing the zeitgeist for commercial purposes is a goal as old and as venerated as the advertising industry itself. This year's Super Bowl, however, has demonstrated the benefits of a raw new model for real-time ad creation — one which relies heavily on the disseminative power of social media and the appeal of rapidly-created, context-sensitive creative content. It's not yet ready to obviate traditional TV advertising during monolithic events like the Super Bowl — Oreo itself spent lavishly on a video spot that played during the game — but there's no denying the early success of reactive social marketing.