How Oreo stole the Superbowl

I’ve been a 49ers fan for almost twenty years. From my first wide-eyed pilgrimage to the Valley, passing through Bayview Heights, you can’t help but notice the oddly long lines lines of Candlestick Park. I interupted a cabbie who was only a quarter way through his explanation of the Twinkie defence with “Who plays there? Next thing I’m at a game, merchandise, and part of the wave at The Stick. Go Niners! So, despite the heartbreak of Sunday night, I know Colin Kaepernick has greatness ahead of him. 1994 : 2014 has a certain symmetrical appeal.

It would appear of course that as the Niners and The Ravens were battling on the pitch – the world of Social Media was working hard. Social Media related activity was up about twice what is was for Super Bowl 2012. TiVo released their anonymous set-top box analysis and the winning ad was Taco Bell, Viva Young. But, the winning brand? Oreo. Within five minutes of the power outage (caused of course by Ms Knowle’s rendition of the second verse of Baby Boy, quantum theory will prove me right), Oreo’s new-media agency 3601 had the Tweet and image ready to go,

President of 360iSarah Hofstetter had set-up base camp to watch the game with key 360i staff and Oreo, who were airing their ‘Cookies & Cream’ commercial on Sunday evening. In an interview with Rachel Sanders from Buzzfeed, Hofstetter says the key to such a successful social media real-tiem reaction was having a brave client, willing to make instant decisions. Self-effacing perhaps. 360i, one of Ad Age’s best places to work in 2012, should really take a good deal of the credit. Within an hour, the retweet count was 10,000+. Interviews with the Wall Street Journal and more followed. Everyone is talking about Oreo. Job done.

So why did it work so well? It was witty, it was quick; there’s a Beyonce context, a common experience for the viewer – a global experience, which the Super Bowl ads themselves don’t even reach. It’s hard to repeat but it was beautifully executed. Iy illustrates the continued convergence of television and social media. Twice the social media activity illustrates the relevance particularly for live television events. Time shifted TV obviously lacks much of the opportunity for social media flurries – but live TV, has a lot to gain, or is that retaij?. Yet, viewing figures weren’t up much on previous years – but our engagement with social media rises significantly. During the musical interlude, a quarter of a million tweets per minute has helped define a bench-mark in an event that has caught the eye.

I’ve heard the term culture-jacking used today, but this really is just evolution. For years we talked of convergence in technology, but this is a step further; this is convergecne of technology, culture and opinion. When you open your eyes daily, you are bombarded with direct messages, subliminal messages and media of all types. It’s hard to sit still. Look at a soap-opera from ten or fifteen years ago. The length of scenes in today’s soaps has probably halved. In this staple of global TV audiences it is evident even here, that our attention span, is essentially, shot. We need to be stimulated. And as media of all types pokes us, it’s human nature to react – to poke back.

As we watch global events like teh Super Bowl, are we just clicking more and watching less, though? No-one knows for sure, but the levels of interaction suggest that brand builders cannot dismiss the social channel. In the last week the BBC announced a second-screen app, the kind you watch or refer to while watching the substantive content on TV- in this case the BBC’s motoring show, Top Gear; a sort of Top Gear Bingo, you can listen and look out for them, checking them off on your tablet screen asan evening of Captain Slow reversing badly unfolds. Further illustration that the public expect to be not just entertained and engaged but consulted these days – from political polls to X-Factor voting, the crowd behind crowd-sourcing are taking themselves seriously, and want to be heard, and not as individuals, but as a herd in what is a distinctly socialist themed outcome. The stickiness of brands themselves are now requiring brand managers to extend an invitation for opinion. It becomes a loop of feedback-proposition- feedback. It’s too soon to say how long the life-cycle is for specific brands or campaigns using this formula, but Oreo showed us Sunday night, with the help of very savvy digital agency, you can indeed dunk in the dark, and keep your hands in your pocket.

  1. The Slate tempers our wild excietment
  2. Wall Street Journal interview with Sarah Hofstetter


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