Good Brand Tweets Are Not a Rising, Well, Tide

It took nineteen months, but we finally have a tweet that comes close to living up to the real-time promise put on display at the 2013 Super Bowl by Oreo. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Tide tweet, complete with twitpic (below).

 Marvel at the deftly handled brand tie-in! Ooh and aah at the duct tape covering up the name on LeBron James’ old Cleveland uniform! Applaud at the use of the malleable #JustInCase hashtag! And, of course, note the incipient sarcasm of this social media columnist!

This is not to make fun of the tweet. It’s to make fun of all of the endless analysis that will no doubt come in the wake of what, in essence, is eight words and a picture.

In addition to upwards of 9,000 retweets, the Tide/LeBron tweet has been covered by The Bleacher Report,,, CNBC, and USA Today, to name a few.  It’s popped up on Instagram as well. Though I couldn’t find any specific metrics about it, the thing’s got reach. The only thing that’s missing -- but, trust me, it’s coming -- is fawning columns in the ad trades.

But let’s take a step back here. All Procter & Gamble did here was execute just about perfectly in a completely obvious way. It managed to appropriately piggyback on something in the zeitgeist that’s been brewing over the last few days, commissioned a cheeky visual to go with the tweet, and voila! Almost instant real-time marketing fame!

Doing the same for other brands, exploiting other pop-culture phenomenon, just shouldn’t be so hard. But the art of real-time brand tweeting is dodgy at best. Even though brands have had months to prepare, take a look at this roster of World Cup advertiser tweets, and tell me you aren’t suitably unimpressed. At their worst, these tweets are so blatantly self-promotional that they are nothing but a turn-off. I’m all for transparency, but, in these cases, it’s painfully clear that some brands will tweet anything with the #worldcup hashtag and call it RTM. Take @KFC’s decision to quote Colonel Sanders in the context of the U.S. vs. Belgium game: “I've only had two rules: Do all you can and do it the best you can."

You should have no doubt that when USA goalie Tim Howard blocked all those goals, he was channeling the Colonel.

But it’s a little unfair to out just @KFC here. In fact, that's just one example of a company Twitter account that should be able to put out better tweets. But as the Tide/LeBron tweet, and the long-ago Oreo tweet show, those moments of Twitter brilliance are few and far between.  It’s inexplicable for companies that claim they are in the marketing business.

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