The Cookie Heard Round The World: How Oreo Crushed It

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.
oreo-tweet

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.

Les Misérables and The Kingdom of God

les-mis-posterWith a classic story by Victor Hugo, music and lyrics by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil respectively, direction by Tom Hooper and a star-studded cast headed by Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, and Amanda Seyfried, the film version of Les Misérables is a blockbuster hit that is being hailed as a masterpiece by critics and audiences alike.

I saw the film and I have to say that I agree, although there were some shortcomings. Now, first, I must warn you that I was a musical theater guy in high school and college and even spent some time in theatre conservatory (you know it’s serious when the word is spelled t-h-e-a-t-r-e), so I know the story and music of “Les Mis” like the back of my hand. This, of course, serves to both inform and bias my opinion of the film. With that confession, here is my quick take before getting to the heart of this post.

The story is as compelling as ever (more on that momentarily) and the music brilliant as always. The direction and cinematography are well-done and add depth and intimacy to the story that simply can’t be captured on stage. The cast is hit-and-miss, with Hathaway being surprisingly good, Jackman holding his own, but not great, and Seyfried sounding OK, but a little like a modern-day fluttery Cinderella. Then there’s Russell Crowe – far out-classed by his co-stars and outmatched by the vocal score, the guy just isn’t up to the task. It’s not just bad. It’s really bad – embarrassingly bad.

The standouts are some of the unknowns of the film. Little Isabelle Allen as young Cosette, Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche and Natalya Angel Wallace as the grown-up Éponine all shine in their roles as do Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the Thénardiers. Eddie Redmayne as Marius is ho-hum.les_miserables_hathaway

With all of that taken into consideration, what I walked away from the film with was this: the story of Les Misérables is a story of redemption and forgiveness. It is a story of a cynical man being undeservedly forgiven and living the rest of his life trying to reconcile himself to that forgiveness. A single act, carried out without hesitation by a priest, pivots Jean Valjean’s life and opens up something in him that can never be resealed.

This, to me, is the story of the Kingdom of God. A single act of forgiveness that brings redemption to us all and (if recognized for what it truly is) affects us to our core for the rest of our existence. If we understand the forgiveness we’ve received, then we can give forgiveness when it seems the least warranted. If we understand the death from which we were spared, then we can spare others who deserve a similar fate. If we understand the brokenness of our own humanity, then we can see more clearly the humanity of even the most broken people.

les-miserables-openThe story of Les Misérables is the story of us. We are the miserable ones who, without the redemptive person of Jesus are “standing in our graves” here on earth. He rescues us – from prison, from the gutter, from being orphaned and, ultimately, from death. He died as one accused so that we could make a clean getaway.

If you venture out to see Les Misérables in the coming days, consider for yourself just how much forgiveness one man had to offer in order for you to live the life you’re living. Then, resolve to offer the same forgiveness to others that you have received for yourself.

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