For those of you who missed it, Oreo’s now famous Super bowl ad played brilliantly off the inconvenient power outage that plagued the second half of the big game. As a singular achievement, the ad can provide social media marketers valuable lessons about timing, participation, and creating relevant advertisements. Oreo’s Super Bowl success was not a fluke, however; whoever’s in charge of social media over there has been killing it for the better part of a year now.
The efficacy of Oreo’s social media stems from the idea that they deliberately choose to participate in conversations that are already playing out in the public dialogue rather than attempting to create and control those conversations. The case of Oreo’s LGBT ad in June in particular showed that Oreo is dedicated to keeping its product in the public eye by sheer relevancy regardless of the specific public opinion of its most controversial ad. Oreo’s more recent Grammy’s advertisement is another brilliant application of the idea of appropriate relevancy.
Let’s discuss relevancy for a moment to better understand how Oreo manages to create such well received or buzz-worthy ads. Compare Oreo’s strategy of correlating its ads with popular public events and discussions with the current status quo in social media: a generic, shameless self-promotion or product plug that likely won’t reach much farther than a brand’s already-loyal customers. Check out the social media of some popular companies; I won’t specifically call out any one offender, but I assure you that the internet is rife with examples.
If you’re looking where I’ve looked, the contrast is stark – and important. It’s the difference between the feeling you have when you’re trying to get solicitors off your front door and the feeling of being at a party surrounded by friends (one of which happens to be a solicitor professionally). One is casual, natural, clever, and appropriately self-aware. The other is forced, contrived, and potentially irritating. The latter doesn’t fare very well in the digital age largely because, as the internet replaces television as the primary medium for information and communication, individual users will have more control over the content they’re subjected to, including advertisements. If someone really doesn’t want to be subjected to an advertisement or product, they can simply close the browser window.
A more important nuance of social media specifically is that users very directly control their exposure to advertisements by subscribing (or not subscribing) to particular businesses’ media feeds. In addition to the idea of user content control, this reason alone means that ads which create entertainment value as well as Oreo’s do are tremendous. Given the fickle nature of public talking trends and the pace at which the public’s attention span moves, Oreo seems to understand that you only have to capture the spotlight momentarily – but completely – to be effective.
If Oreo’s recent history is any indication, we can expect more fantastic examples of how to correctly utilize social media from them in the future.