It was a moment that will live on in the memories of Super Bowl watchers for decades. Just after a historic kickoff return by Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones, the electrical system at the Superdome decided to make some history of its own. The 34 minute delay in the action served to highlight just how much can go wrong even when we’ve planned extensively to be sure that everything goes right.
Eventually, the stories will come out of what went on behind the scenes in those first few minutes of darkness. What was happening in the production trucks or among the staff in the bowels of the dome? What protocols were enacted on the national security front? Who was panicking and who wasn’t.
There’s a lot left to learn about that night, but there’s one group that we know was prepared for that moment: the folks at Nabisco and their ad agency, 360i. Mere minutes after the outage, Nabisco tweeted the picture and caption below.
How in the world did they make it happen so fast? Conspiracy theorists started pontificating almost immediately. The real answer, however, was simple. They were prepared for it.
No, they didn’t know the power was going to go out, but what they did know is that it’s hard to have half a day of live television, complete with portable set pieces, pyrotechnics and countless open mics, without having something go wrong. Something memorable and unscripted was going to happen that night, and Oreo was going to be ready.
How ready? Well, according to reports, the offices of 360i became Oreo’s social media central on February 3rd. In the room were brand managers, ad executives, agency creatives and anyone else it would take to brainstorm, create, approve and launch an ad campaign faster than you can say “creamy delicious center.”
Yes, you read that correctly, a process that would typically take months in a large organization like Nabisco was arranged on that evening to take just minutes. The results speak for themselves: 16,000 retweets and over 21,000 Facebook Likes for an ad that cost nothing to run and very little to create. Compare that to the $4 million fees for a televised 30 second spot and it’s clear that Oreo got the most bang for their buck on Sunday night.
But remember, they did so not because they were incredibly creative or witty – in fact, if you read the ad copy outside of the Super Sunday context, just about anybody could have written it – but because they were ready. If real estate is all about location, location, location, then social media is all about timing, timing, timing and the only way to respond to real-time events quickly is to have made the preparations and gotten the right people in the room ahead of time.
Today, I’m sure there are a lot of businesses looking at their social media teams (or the intern they put on that because they didn’t think it was all that important) and asking why they couldn’t capitalize on the situation like Oreo did. In the same offices, there are ad agencies explaining to their clients that, for a small fee, they, too, can set up a social media command center and be ready to respond to the next big unexpected event.
But here’s my guess. I’m guessing that at next year’s Super Bowl, when all the other brands are frantically trying to find something to tweet about, the folks at Nabisco will have already hatched up the next ad innovation that will keep them one step ahead of their competition. After all, that’s what innovators do.