For those who missed the game, Oreo had two big social plays. First, they were the only advertiser to incorporate Instagram into their spot -- and really, to encourage true user-generated content: they invited viewers to submit Instagram photos, which they then turned into sculptures made of either creme or cookies.
The result? 36,000 Instagram followers, and some impressive cultural artifacts, to boot.
Their second -- and probably most buzz-generating -- win was a tweeted image that, within minutes of the already-infamous blackout, read: “You can still dunk in the dark.” Current retweet count: 14,439 -- and climbing. In the midst of the most tweeted-about moment, they broke through the noise and grabbed both reach and engagement (and praise).
What can we learn from Oreo's impressive success?
1. Think assets, not just attention. As Bonin Bough alluded to in an article before the ad's debut, Oreo was looking to rethink the “…30 second TV spot not only as a creative end-point, but also as a creative starting point.”
Oreo didn't just air a spot with a fleeting hashtag -- it gained followers for its just-launched Instagram channel; it created artifacts that can continue to be tweeted and shared; it built a platform that can grow and evolve over time. The ad, and their real-time responses, were investments -- not merely one-time, attention-grabbing plays.
2. The second screen isn’t second fiddle (and neither is the third or fourth, either, for that matter). Hashtags are the lifeblood of real-time, post-first-screen social engagement. Yet they're often attached as an afterthought. Oreo took a different approach. They leveraged their #cremethis and #cookiethis hashtags as drivers of social content co-creation, not friendly passengers along for the digital ride.
Was the implementation perfect? Perhaps not. The call-to-action toward the end of the commercial could have used a little more clarity and explicit direction. But that's beside the point: Oreo made their TV creative the conduit for a multiscreen engagement experience. (So did Old Spice's “Smell Like a Man, Man” campaign, for that matter.) And the brand invested heavily in real-time, in-game content creation on both Twitter and Instagram. This is a trend that's here to stay, and more marketers would do well to capitalize on it.
3. Be ready to react in real-time. Really. “Real-time” is a term we throw around a lot these days. And it's an important one. But there's real-time as concept, and then there's real-time as practice. On game day, Oreo demonstrated the latter.
According to this BuzzFeed article, Oreo and its agency 360i had all the right people in the room to approve content quickly. Agency creatives, brand executives, and presumably, social media managers (and perhaps legal and other stakeholders) were all ready to act at a moment's notice. And they did -- 14,439 retweets later, I'm sure they don't regret the decision. Because Oreo didn’t see the second screen as secondary, they invested time and money into real-time content creation -- and, along with other savvy, quick-thinking brands like Audi and VW, reaped the benefits as a result.
Thinking about the bigger picture
One way to look at Oreo's win is that they capitalized on a broader spectrum of content, from planned (the 30-second spot) to planned and reactive (the Instagram responses) to fully reactive (the blackout tweet). When brands capitalize on the full spectrum of content, they can truly reap the benefits that an opportunity like social TV -- especially on a night like the Super Bowl -- presents.
So when you're thinking about your brand marketing strategy for 2013, don't separate campaign components into unnecessarily disconnected compartments. Instead, think about your different pieces of content -- and the different screens upon which they will appear -- as part of one integrated ecosystem.
Each tactic has its own important purpose. Each can, when seen in an interconnected context, contribute to broader business- and brand-building goals. Then, when your full strategy comes together -- when you're executing great first-screen creative, and multi-screen social engagement, and real-time, culturally relevant content -- you might feel like you've just won the Super Bowl.