The Great Oreo Debate

It’s now been four days since the Super Bowl, and the digital marketing industry is still talking about Oreo’s quick response to the blackout. But not everyone’s convinced that the fast move by Oreo is a great example of real-time marketing. Some brand and agency executives are claiming it’s only resonating in the insular digital marketing world.

Digiday reached out to brand and agency executives and asked them whether the Oreo quick response is a sign of the future of marketing or a one-time, circumstantial event that didn’t have that much impact anyway?

Anonymous Brand Exec A
This is nothing new. Brands do this more often than they get credit for. The Super Bowl just happens to be a huge event that gets the attention of a lot of people, so the Oreo effort was amplified because of that. At the end of the day, who’s going to complain about 17,000 retweets? And the effort was worth it just for all the press they’re getting. In fact, the PR value alone probably did a lot for them. But other brands, like Tide and Jim Beam, also responded super fast to the blackout and Oreo is the only one getting the attention.

Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus
I think making too big of a deal out of the one tweet, or the result, is misguided. I think when talking about the retweets, it’s such a small number in the context of the Super Bowl audience. The reality is, the whole thing is big and Oreo should not be getting praise for just this one tweet. Oreo should be praised for its overall commitment, and it’s been doing this for a while. I have created a group within the agency to do [real-time marketing] cost effectively. The results we’ve seen from doing this for clients are substantially higher numbers, in the millions. I think we’re focusing too much on this one action.

John Leeman, CMO of FreshDirect
If Oreo’s brand was suffering because of its old-school, non-digitally savvy image, I suppose this kind of a reaction might have helped make a positive difference. But since Oreo is a timeless brand that most people probably hope will never change, it seems unlikely this would help much, beyond the fact that you are publishing an article to your readers about it for free.

Anonymous Brand Exec B
I’m a bit neutral. I think it’s good for any marketing team to be constantly thinking out of the box, being timely and being relevant. That said, one in several of these types of efforts will really hit home. While I have my doubts that this was one of those “success stories,” it certainly was worth the minimal cycles it most likely took to execute.

Brian J. Maynard, director of Jenn-Air brand marketing at Whirlpool
Reacting quickly to a real-time incident isn’t anything new; you don’t have to look hard to find good and bad examples. I do think there is more opportunity to do so in today’s “always on” world. Having a team in place to react to something that might happen during an event like the Super Bowl is really smart. Just think of the possibilities if there had been another wardrobe malfunction. So what if this time they only received 17,000 retweets. They should get credit for reacting quickly. And it is 17,000 more retweets than they would have otherwise. I am assuming they have learned from this, and next time they may hit on something that really gains traction. I say bravo for the effort.

Anonymous Agency Exec 
This is definitely a sign of the future of marketing. Yes, this one tweet received under 20,000 retweets, but once compared to Oreo’s normal activity, its performance was far above average. If anything, this is a case study as to how much more engaging a brand’s content becomes when the focus is on real-time relevance. The present challenge for brands is identifying cost-effective ways to execute this regularly. I think it’s feasible to see a marketing landscape 10 years from now where brands are competing hourly for this kind of attention and personally tailoring such content to the consumer.