Timely is the New Costly

Posted by Phillip Osgood on February 13th, 2013 at 6:00 am

The trophy’s been lifted. The game’s been played. The parade is long over and the MVP is on his way to Disney World. The 43rd Super Bowl may have come and gone for the sports world, but for the advertising industry, there’s still much to be analyzed.

This year’s crop of high-budget TV commercials is significant not for its overly-provocative pieces or its glossy inspirational spots, but because these pseudo short films were outdone by static image ads posted on the fly via social networks like Twitter and Facebook. The morning-after hype surrounding this controversial Go Daddy commercial and Dodge's ode to farmers was somehow matched by an on-the-fly Oreo ad that was as simple as it was timely.

At 8:48 PM EST, less than twenty minutes after a section of Superdome lights went dark, historically delaying America’s most watched sporting event, Oreo successfully capitalized on a suddenly sedentary television audience by tweeting out a timely reminder that cookies can still be dunked in the dark. “Power out? No problem,” reads the tweet that has now garnered over sixteen thousand retweets, six thousand favorites and twenty thousand Facebook “likes.”

Add in the bonus exposure that comes from being covered by Buzzfeed, Slate, Marketplace, Fast Company, NPR, and the Washington Post (among countless other news outlets) and the publicity pulled in from this single static photo may just be the best bang-for-your-buck Super Bowl ad of all time.

How did Oreo pull it off, exactly? By bunkering down with their brand team at 360i through the entire game, ready to jump at any opportunity the moment it presented itself.  When the Super Bowl stadium lights went off, a light bulb over the Oreo team’s collective head went on. Within minutes, their on-the-fly ad had been fully designed, approved and launched to an increasingly impatient public waiting for football to resume. The World Wide Web’s reaction was instantaneously measurable and overwhelmingly positive.

What made Oreo’s Super Bowl success on Twitter even more interesting was the fact that the brand had already run their well-received "Cookie vs. Cream" TV spot during the game.  The commercial, which cost a cool $4 million just to buy the ad time, aimed to augment Oreo’s social networking clout through a viewer call-to-action: “Choose your side on Instagram @Oreo.” It’s no surprise that brands like Oreo are looking to extend the debate beyond the physical commercial itself. Leveraging additional audience interaction through social networking platforms certainly helps justify spending a fortune on thirty seconds of TV air time, after all.  But when the success of a spot can be calculated based on new followers (approximately 20k, in this instance), it provides a new metric of measurement that’s a whole lot more “hands-on” than simple brand awareness.

New York used to be “the city that never sleeps”, but now it’s the Internet that takes no rest.  Whether it’s an expensive, old media platform appropriated for an online end goal, or a timely tweet targeting a suddenly sedentary audience, it’s clear that our culture is now being relentlessly driven by the digitized world.  How brands and advertisers choose to strategize around this fact remains to be seen.  Who knows?  Maybe Oreo’s Super Bowl success will usher in a new trend for advertisers: around-the-clock brand team coverage.  Wouldn’t that be fun for the agencies?

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