Before Apple's iconic "1984" Super Bowl commercial that launched the Macintosh, the big game was still really all about the big game. Since, Super Bowl ads have become a whole separate — and for some viewers, a more important — entertainment avenue of the game.
And with one incredibly quick and clever missive during last year's infamous "Blackout Bowl" game, Oreo may have officially launched Twitter as the new hotspot for Super Bowl advertisers to make their biggest impact.
The ad — actually, technically not an ad, since the company was not paying to distribute it, but rather a brand-focused tweet — was created by digital marketing agency 360i, in a process that took just 10 minutes from the time the lights went out in the Superdome (8:38 p.m.) until the Oreo tweet was posted (8:48 p.m.).
How? 360i's media command center, in which agency creatives and executives from Oreo gathered to watch the game, and to watch for any potential opportunities for Oreo to associate the dunkable treat with one of the biggest sports events of the year. The result was a sweet, positive dispatch that went viral across social media — more than 15,000 retweets and 20,000 Facebook likes — with a message that reminded everyone that Oreo is a great comfort food.
Again, all in 10 minutes.
"There were a number of ideas that were batted around in the first few minutes on what would be the most effective way to take advantage of it," Sarah Hofstetter, U.S. CEO of 360i tells Yahoo TV. "The most important thing there, though, was the acknowledgement that there's something here, 'The lights are out, OK, what can we do with this?'
"Then the ideas started batting around, and thankfully we have a wonderfully creative team here. Within the first couple of minutes we landed on an idea, which was the one that you saw. It only took a couple of minutes to comp it. There was a copywriter and an art director in the room. But the interesting thing is that it actually was ready before it was posted. We just wanted to make sure that everything was OK in the Superdome, and then we posted. It was actually created even faster [than it appeared], believe it or not."
This year, of course, fans following Super Bowl day activities on Twitter should expect their feeds to overflow with similar brand posts, or, at least, tweets from brands trying to make an impression with the same kind of simple, but effective message Oreo dropped during Super Bowl XLVII.
Several ad agencies indicated to Time that they have their own command centers in the works for that very purpose. And as recently as last week's Grammy Awards, Arby's had social media success with a shout-out to the similarity between the hat in the company's logo and the one sported by Grammy winner Pharrell Williams during the ceremony.
— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) January 27, 2014
Arby's gentle ribbing, and Williams' good-natured response, led to more than 83,000 retweets. "That was great! That was fabulous, hats off, literally, to those guys," Hofstetter says. "They did such a great job, and it was perfect for that brand. It was a great message, and Pharrell was hilarious [in his response]. It was really also nice to see other brands give props to Arby's. That was neat."
But Hofstetter also cautions that agencies and brands trying to mimic Oreo's success during this year's game should go in prepared. "We had analysts that were monitoring Internet reaction [to the Super Bowl], as well as the creatives that were creating the content," she says. "Then we had the client in the room, making sure that they were comfortable with whatever it was we were posting, as well as working with us to identify opportunities that were both on brand and on strategy. We had already set up guardrails of the kinds of content that is on brand, that isn't on brand, that's OK to do.
Pharrell on his wins at the Grammys:
"What I hope is happening now is that [other agencies] are not just setting up these command centers this one time, but that they've [spent] the past year actually practicing and getting some of the fundamentals in place, because if this is going to be their first rodeo, they might be in for a little bit of a surprise. [Our command center] was controlled chaos. I think that's probably the biggest watch out for brands that are new to this this year … how are you organizing to allow for flexibility so it's not full control, but also not chaos … so they actually know how everybody contributes to whatever the output is."
As for what kinds of topics might lead to great social media opportunities for advertisers during Super Bowl XLVIII, the cold temperatures in New Jersey and New York "is, I think, one of the reasons they chose to have the Super Bowl there, for the drama of the weather," Hofstetter says, while popular, and sometimes controversial, players like the Seahawks' Richard Sherman will almost certainly be a ubiquitous social media topic.
Hofstetter also has a hint about what her 360i team will be working on in their command center.
"Keep an eye out for Toyota," she says. "Toyota is doing some really fun work with the Muppets this year."