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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:


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.

The Holy Grail of Social Media: Creating Relevant Content in Real Time

The curious thing about social media marketing is that there is no right way to do things. There’s no wrong way, either. It’s still very much the Wild West – with no Sheriff in sight.

I wrote earlier this year about the Oreo “Dunk in the Dark” tweet as the most-talked-about branding execution of the Super Bowl. This one tweet in fact amplified the conversation around “Real-Time Social Marketing” – with nearly every conference of the year including some panel discussion about the hot topic.

However, real time marketing isn’t new; we’ve just never had the tools to make it as easy as it is now. If anything, Disney recognized the power of original, brilliant real-time marketing during major events – including the Super Bowl – before social media existed. For instance, the “I’m going to Disney World!” spots, which would air immediately following national sports championships with in-game footage and jubilant cry, represents a simpler era in real time marketing. 

Times have changed, and it’s now much simpler and less expensive to create content in real time that can be buzz worthy. Yet, as brands try to insert themselves into the conversation of non-branded events, one has to ask if they should. Everything from the birth of Prince George, to the anniversary of September 11, to the finale of Breaking Bad sees brands trying to catch the lightning-in-a-bottle effect that Oreo captured in February. Such activity begs the question though: What is the exact relevance?

I’m not suggesting brands should stop, because it’s well known they won’t. Brands must, however, think about what makes sense for what it already stands for as well as its target demographic. Like PR, there is a time and place to be part of the conversation, but it shouldn’t be for every single event. For instance, Chips Ahoy tweeting about The Walking Dead just doesn’t fit in.

What might make more sense is for Hyundai, which is a sponsor for The Walking Dead, to tweet about its car and marketing campaign tied to the show. While Chips Ahoy is trying to be a part of the buzz without being an official sponsor, it doesn’t come across as an authentic, unique and relevant integration. Instead it feels like a brand forcing itself on you and, in some circumstances, embarrassing themselves.

At the end of the day, the Holy Grail of digital, social, and really all marketing/PR initiatives is to achieve the “viral” recognition – for the right reasons. So very few achieve it, and more brands achieve it for the wrong reasons.  While that doesn’t mean not to try, it needs to be an acceptance of all the varying factors that play into viral success – many of which are completely out of your control. There is no one formula for success (or failure) but with a little bit of luck, you might just pull off something amazing.  

CKSK CEO Cillian Kieran – “What Can Brands Learn from Start-Ups about Real-Time Marketing?”

Cillian Kieran, CEO of global full-service digital agency CKSK, appeared on a panel at OMMA Global on Tuesday entitled “Real-Time Mobile: How Personal (and Social) Can You Get?” The panel discussed the technology that allows brands and marketers to reach consumers in “real time” and the issue of what can be done vs. what should be done. What is the line between providing value and being creepy? And where does the consumer fit in this equation?

In this video, Cillian answers the question, “What can brands learn from start-ups about real-time marketing?”

The OMMA Mobile panel was moderated by Evan Neufeld, Principal Analyst, Storyline Development, and included panelists Ian Beacraft, Senior Mobile Strategist, Leo Burnett; John Faith, Senior Vice President, RetailMeNot; and Eric Friedman, Director of Revenue Operations, Foursquare.

CKSK recently announced its expansion into the US marketplace with the opening of its NYC office and new business wins that include Heineken USA and Pernod Ricard. The agency is headquartered in Dublin and also has an office in Amsterdam.

Real-Time Marketing Is the New Reality

Is there such a thing as a real-time marketing plan? Nancy Hill, President-CEO of the 4A’s, opened a session with that question this week during OMMA Global at Advertising Week.

Hill moderated “’Real-Time’ Spells Real Change for Media, Marketers and Customers,” a panel that discussed all the challenges and issues involved in real-time interaction with consumers who are online 24/7.

As the panel revealed, the approach to real-time marketing differs for companies depending on whether their messaging is primarily B2C or B2B. Lisa Shallett, Head of Brand Marketing and Digital Strategy at Goldman Sachs, is in the B2B camp, and the company found itself backing in to content marketing because financial regulation and legal issues prevent the global investment bank from taking part in real-time conversations.

Because of those restrictions, Shallet told Hill that “oxymoronically,” Goldman Sachs needed a “real-time” marketing playbook that lays out all the possible “what if’s” of any situation and how their legal, compliance and marketing departments must come together to respond, if indeed, they choose to respond. The company is more disposed to listening to online chatter using tools such as Radian6 to at least have a sense of sentiment about the Goldman Sachs brand in worlds beyond finance. “It’s ironic to have a playbook for what ought to be spontaneous,” Shallet said.

At the other end of the spectrum was Alexis Maybank, founder, Chief Strategy Officer of online fashion retailer Gilt Groupe. Maybank said the site has evolved beyond an e-commerce site to a full-on content channel that provides a different experience each time a person lands on the home page and begins clicking deeper into the content. She explained that the company has invested heavily in real-time, regression analysis that is based on every click, every season preference, color, size and beyond.

“We need to keep up on a real-time basis,” Maybank said. “If someone is buying maternity clothing, we have to change their experience on the site very quickly.” Part of what keeps consumers coming back, she added, is that the Gilt Groupe site feels to consumers as if the brand understands their interests and serves up, based on past behaviors, the products and information most relevant to that person.

Another panelist, Lori Hiltz, CEO of Havas Media, North America, is somewhere in between. As the agency handling large consumer retail chains that offer various goods and services (Sears, Kmart), Havas Media has started from the inside of its own organization and worked outwards to serve its client.

Keeping a real-time dialogue going with consumers on behalf of clients that sell everything from bras to lawnmowers is extremely complex, and Havas Media has made significant investments across its talent base to cultivate fluency in data, optimization, algorithms and online behavior.

One of the biggest pitfalls in real-time marketing, the panelists all agreed, was knowing how to respond to negative feedback or conversations. That’s why, in addition to investing in the science side of the business, marketers and agencies need employees who understand the relationship aspects of any business.

Panelist Porter Gale, author of Your Network Is Your Net Worth, said that Red Bull, Old Spice and some entertainment properties are leading the way in terms of the real-time marketing conversation. She pointed to a movie studio that recently held a Google Hangout on the red carpet at a film opening.

Hiltz said her client, Dannon, is responding instantaneously to shopper marketing data right at the supermarket check out, such is the “yogurt world battle” going on now because of the popularity of Greek-style yogurt.

Ultimately, the panelists agreed, driving more engagement with consumers and viewers by optimizing their social graphs is an ever-changing process and will remain so for quite some time.

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