Oreo’s Power-Outage Tweet: Much Ado About Nothing?

There were plenty of topics of conversation to cover from yesterday’s Super Bowl extravaganza. Of course, many started in real-time on social media during the game itself. Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Ray Lewis’ last hurrah, why the 49ers didn’t show up until the second half—all had heavy play on Twitter.

But in the game’s aftermath, perhaps no social media move by a brand attracted so much attention as Oreo’s news-jacking of the third-quarter power outage in the Superdome. While the players tried to stay loose, social media teams exhausted themselves in creating clever messages around the blackout. For example, PBS suggested viewing alternative programming: “Downton Abbey.” Audi, Tide, Volkwagon and other brands also chimed in as well.

Oreo, though, took it a step further, creating a kind of a micro-ad on the fly, with “Power Out?  No problem” in the body of the tweet, and “You can always dunk in the dark” as the tagline for a creative graphic.

As Will Oremus pointed out in the Future Tense blog on Slate, Oreo’s tweet was hailed as nearly magical by the marketing and business press—like AdAge and The Wall Street Journal—and the other brands that participated in this social news-jacking also received ink around their efforts.

But there has been some backlash. Oremus questioned why Oreo’s tweet was seen as so groundbreaking, and wondered why it was gushed on by the media. After all, social media efforts should push the envelope. Shouldn’t tweets such as Oreo's be executed as the normal course of social media business?

What do you think? Was the Oreo tweet much ado about nothing, or newsworthy in and of itself?

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  • Reginald Christian

    Oreo’s had an internal ecosystem that not only provided the notion this might be a good idea; but they actually had a system that gave them the ability to execute it quickly. As a creative director, I understand the challenge of executing a creative graphic and getting the approval to post it with such speed. Kudos to them for having a system that works so that they can leverage and exploit opportunities. In the end this is the power of social that we often speak of. But they executed. So they get the praise!

  • C. Lee Smith

    Scott, you just argued against yourself. Marketers “gushed” at this as an EXAMPLE of how the “normal course of social media business” should be executed.

  • Carol Dunsmore

    It was clever and well done but it’s one tweet (although the Oreo team has had some smaller successes). I can’t help wondering if something so momentary really has an impact with consumers. I guess the point is you have to keep working the magic all the time if you expect it to get any meaningful traction (with buyers, not marketing PR types).

  • Steve Lubetkin

    I think we are still in an era where people’s reactions to communications are heavily influenced by what they perceive as the “aha” factor of the communications channel. It’s still a headline to say “Oreo used Twitter to say…” and until that kind of story becomes as ludicrous as “Oreo’s CEO used the telephone today…” we will see these kinds of adoring stories.

    The Tweet was clever and funny and playful and got a lot of retweets. But does this actually change behavior? Jury is still out on whether this is really the kind of conversation envisioned by the creators of social media, or just ad firms using Twitter as another megaphone that will eventually jump the shark in consumers’ minds.