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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.

Super Bowl XLVII – Cut the Lights, Cue the Tweets

Super Bowl hype has become almost formulaic over the years. In the weeks leading up to the actual game, many marketers release their TV spots in increments online for everyone to get an early look. Then there’s the game, which always has an exhilarating halftime show. The commercials are discussed ad nauseum for days afterward. It’s clear the formula is working. This year the Bowl didn’t break its own record, but still reached the 100 million viewer threshold. The only real variable is the game itself, which was another exciting finish featuring the extremely rare voluntary safety play.

When the lights went out in the third quarter,  we reached uncharted territory; the largest event of the year was put on hold due to a power outage, and the networks, players, fans in the stands and the viewing audience were scratching our heads. Some ads like Bud Light’s Lucky Chair were run again to fill the gap. Many took to social networks.

My personal Twitter feed was full of jokes – the most common being Bane / The Dark Knight Rises references, Beyonce’s “second” performance, and crude Ray Lewis jokes – but the tweets that stood out the most were from brands.

oreo tweet

Oreo stole the show by following the brand’s “Whisper Fight” spot with a tweet that perfectly inserted their product into the immediate chaos of the blackout.  Other kudos go to Audi, PBS, and Tide. I’ll even give credit to Calvin Klein, though that Vine was for a different target audience than the one I belong to, but I digress.

While massive marketing events like the Super Bowl seem so planned out from every possible angle, the lesson learned – for PR professionals, advertisers, social media gurus, and others, is to always be ready to make the most of the unexpected and quickly adapt to the unknown. Of course,  that is much easier said than done but these brands showed us it’s possible, and can help change brand perception with just 140 characters and a mouse click.

Let the countdown for Super Bowl XLVIII begin. We hope MetLife Stadium in New Jersey can withstand the high power consumption that the Super Bowl demands.

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