When the Super Bowl plunged into darkness for 20 minutes on Sunday, quick-thinking marketers sprung into action.
Oreo, Audi, Walgreens, and other brands "newsjacked" the blackout, posting quips on Twitter that took advantage of the headlines.
Oreo's retweet was the cleverest:
And Oreo racked up the retweets and favorites for its fast work.
Other brands that jumped on the blackout bandwagon: Audi; Walgreens, which drily reminded consumers it carries candles and lights; PBS, which suggested, "This might be a good time to think about alternative programming," hashtagged #SuperbowlBlackout #WeHaveDowntonPBS; the SimCity game, which has a new version coming out soon; and more.
SearchEngineLand's Matt McGee labeled the stunts as "newsjacking," inserting your brand or idea into breaking news events.
Newsjacking has been going on for a very long time in the IT industry, and most of it is clumsy. In its dumbest form, it involves disaster recovery technology jumping on the latest hurricane or earthquake to point out that their products could have prevented the data loss. Because these sorts of natural disasters usually involve people dying, that kind of newsjacking is in exquisitely poor taste, like trying to sell life insurance at a funeral.
The Super Bowl blackout brandjacking, on the other hand, is smart, funny, effective, and good work all around.
But will it result in improved sales? That's the problem with brand advertising; it's often difficult to tell. Generally speaking, you look for a sales bump after the big TV commercial or Twitter campaign, and assume cause-and-effect.
Brands didn't just post tweets, they also spent money pushing those tweets out to consumers by purchasing promoted tweets from Twitter.
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.
The agency acknowledged that it was able to make decisions so quickly because the Mondelez-owned cookie brand was a broadcaster advertiser in the Super Bowl, and so was closely monitoring chatter and interaction with consumers on all social media channels. It's arguable though, that 360i's simple little execution overshadowed Oreo's far more expensive TV ad, filled with stunts, that ran in the game before the blackout.
Oreo was already invested in social media for the Super Bowl, with its commercial calling for viewers to follow it on Instagram.
Social media in general was big at the Super Bowl, notes McGee, with Twitter scoring mentions in 26 of 52 commercials (half); Facebook mentioned in only four, or 8 percent; and Google+ not mentioned at all, despite being reportedly the second-most-popular social network in the world. YouTube and Instagram also scored mentions.
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