The second the power went off in the 2013 Super Bowl a light bulb lit up in the mind of an Oreo Cookie marketing staffer.
While the game play was interrupted for more than 30 minutes in the second half due to a stadium-wide power outage, Oreo’s media team quickly prepared a graphic and tweet. The image was of a cookie shining out in the darkness with the message ‘Power out? No problem’. It added: ‘You can always dunk in the dark.’
With the power off in the stadium and emergency lighting throwing little illumination, the crowd was bathed in the light from their smartphones. Meanwhile at home users searched for updates on the outage.
When the Oreo message appeared it had a captive audience. The message was retweeted and favourited thousands of times.
Official advertising costs for the Super Bowl are huge. In 2013 a 30-second ad slot alone cost $4m.
The quickly improvised graphic and tweet from Oreo underlined the difference between the value of traditional advertising and that of real-time content and messaging relevant to an unfolding event. A real clash between old and new.
The success of the improvised tweet also demonstrates the value of having a responsive brand newsroom. The power outage was a little over 20 minutes in length but in that time the Oreo team mobilised, made a quick decision on creative and used Twitter to spread the message.
A bit of quick thinking by a responsive brand team delivered more value than a $4m 30-second ad ever could