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Super Bowl Social and the Curse of the Second Album

On February 2, the Super Bowl descends upon New York. Pressure is building. Expectations are high. New York City is setting her table.

Sure, it’s the premier sporting event on the NFL calendar but Super Bowl XLVIII also marks the anniversary of Oreo’s pivotal blackout tweet (hard to remember we’re talking about a single tweet) responsible for “the next Oreo” battle cry bouncing around Madison Avenue.

Every major live event – be it music, entertainment or sports – provides a stage for brands to reach consumers. The recent Grammy’s proved no exception, and Arby’s arguably “nailed it,” capitalizing on a fortunate wardrobe choice by Pharrell Williams with a simple, sophisticated message:

arbys

The tweet even attracted kudos from Pepsi and Hyundai with responses that were both clever and classy, as reported by Adweek’s David Griner. That’s 83,741 retweets and 48,902 favorites, as of January 30.

But, back to the Super Bowl. In the competitive battle for social media glory, there are effectively two camps: those agencies with major brands as client/s that are looking to leverage a paid TV spot in the Super Bowl with social execution and those that are looking to piggyback on real-time social discussion on behalf of their client/s.

In the paid corner: Brands pay a reported $4 million on average for a 30-second spot (here’s a list of who has bought what in the Super Bowl according to Advertising Age), and that doesn’t include the sizable budgets needed to concept a killer Super Bowl spot, pay for stellar talent and production. The list goes on and on.

In the earned corner: The cost to have your real-time social team plugged in and ready to leap is miniscule in comparison. Sure, there’s work involved in having a solid social strategy in place including a crystal clear understanding of brand messaging and a lean, agile approval process, but as we’ve seen with the Oreo and Arby’s examples, there’s only so much content preparation you can do.

The standout performers from this month’s Golden Globes, as rounded up by Digiday’s Saya Weissman, were L’Oreal and Citi Bike. Their tweets were cute and on brand but felt “canned,” and the results – 9 retweets/14 favorites and 92 retweets/71 favorites, respectively – show it.

Perhaps what Oreo and Arby’s have demonstrated is that the only real way to make a huge impact using social media is to have a crackerjack copywriter that knows your brand at the ready to create quick, smart quips aside a robust monitoring system and streamlined approval procedure.

In any case, the eyes of those interested in marketing and advertising will be on Oreo, eagerly watching its Twitter and Instagram feeds to see what it serves up this year. In the cutthroat world of Super Bowl marketing, let’s hope it’s not the Lemmings to their 1984.

Marketers: Think Twice Before Sending a “Super” Tweet this Sunday

It’s been almost one year since Oreo came up with “The Tweet Heard Round the World.” When it comes to social media marketing, we still hold the Oreo example up as the Gold Standard – the cream filling of the crop if you will. The reason why shouldn’t be surprising. Since last year’s blackout-induced tweet, brands and individuals alike have tried to jump on buzz-worthy topics in an attempt to become part of the conversation in real-time. And, by and large, they have failed. Today’s call to action? To quote former NFL head coach Herm Edwards, “Don’t press send.”

As an industry, can we agree to be more judicious in our use of real-time marketing? Let’s not try to force lightning into the bottle. Examples of #TwitterFails are so common that BuzzFeed could have a section dedicated to them. And it isn’t limited to sporting events or real-time news.

AT&T was forced to apologize for a fairly innocuous tweet in remembrance of September 11. SpaghettiO’s raised the ire of the Twittersphere when it asked followers to “take a moment to remember #PearlHarbor.” While neither brand tweet was offensive, the general feeling was the brands were using national tragedy remembrances as marketing hooks and inserting themselves into conversations where they weren’t a natural fit.

This is a call to action to rethink real-time tweeting and consider your long-term marketing strategy instead. What is my bigger brand message? Does this ladder up to a longer-term strategy? Does it make sense for my auto/soda/beer/dog food company to be tweeting about Peyton Manning shivering in the cold? If the answer to any of those questions is no, don’t press send. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, “better not to post a meme and be thought a fool than to hit send and remove all doubt.”

So to all of the marketers and brand managers and social media teams and anyone else who will be watching the Super Bowl and waiting for this year’s magic moment, take a moment to learn from those that have come before you. That doesn’t mean scrapping your social media strategy altogether, but be aware of the pitfalls of jumping into situations with content that isn’t true to your brand. Everyone wants to be the next “dunk in the dark,” but no one should risk being the next #TwitterFail.

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