Posted May 7, 2013 10:23 am by with 3 comments

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Ever since the great Super Bowl blackout of 2013 and the ensuing praise of the Oreos brand for ‘capitalizing’ on the moment, the push for real-time marketing has been increasing. What many might not know is that Oreo’s incredible ‘moment’ in the real time spotlight was 18 months in the making.

And that is the part that the social media hype machine seems to have conveniently overlooked. Why? Because the idea of real-time marketing is intriguing. It makes sense in the theoretical world and that is often where social media practitioners hawk their services; in the world of theory. The theory plays well because of research like this from AYTM Market Research as reported by eMarketer

US Social Network Users Who Think Real Time Marketing Is Good

Sure consumers want it. They also want a million dollars and free stuff every day. Couple this ideal with research like this from a year ago and the pull for real-time marketing becomes almost irresistible.

Behavior of US Consumers Before and After Real-Time Marketing 2012

Wow! Consumers want it AND it makes them more ready to buy or like or follow or whatever? A marketer’s dream. But let’s go back to the Oreo example and that little issue about it taking 18 months to be ready to look like they are geniuses that just happened to be in the right place at the right time. It wasn’t an accident and it wasn’t something that was just ‘concocted’ as the Business Insider post points out.

The tweet heard round the world when the power went out at the Super Bowl this year — Oreo’s “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark” — was a year and a half in planning, Mondelēz svp Lisa Mann told the 4A’s conference.

The brand began planning almost two years ago, Ad Exchanger reports, as Oreo approached its 100th birthday. The company decided that it would do something in social media every day rather than just occasionally:

The company eventually set up a war room to figure out what was meaningful to its followers — who include some 32 million individuals on Facebook and about 80,000 on Twitter.

And let’s not forget one other ‘little’ factor. The company was already pretty well committed to the Super Bowl.

Plus, of course, the company had bought a Super Bowl ad of its own, and was thus expecting a wave of tweets based on it.

It’s these realities of the business world that make talk of real-time marketing very cheap. How many companies do you know, aside from the Fortune 500’s or Global 2500’s, have the resources to throw at a project that is a bit of a gamble? How many times do you think there will be a blackout in a sporting event the size of the Super Bowl? How many companies have the resources to have a social media SWAT team at the ready at all times? What about an event that turns into a tragedy?

This is not to say that marketers shouldn’t have a desire for or even strive for this kind of thing but to get swept up in the hype and not give reality its due will likely end up costing marketers more than it makes them.

Other than in the Internet and social media marketing press have you heard mention of Oreos and the Super Bowl since it happened? Do you think there is a lasting impact of these one time events? And if there are 20 companies ‘at the ready’ the next time the marketer’s ‘perfect storm’ comes together will the novelty have worn off? Part of the success of the Oreos move was that they were the only ones who were there and ready. That may not be the case in the future.

And lastly, what will be the criteria for this kind of guerilla social media for the future. If an event goes off relatively uneventfully will social media spinmeisters try to make a mountain out if a mole hill just to have something to do? (I say definitely but that’s the cynic in me)

So many questions clouded with an increasing amount of hype should make any marketer wary of just what it means to the ‘Johnny on the Spot’ of the marketing world.

What are your thought on real-time marketing and its realistic implications? Is it hype that can be backed up or not? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.

  • “have you heard mention of Oreos and the Super Bowl since it happened?” yes, here in your post and many others like it.

    • FrankReed

      Sure Vikki. The industry talking to the industry. Did it sell more cookies or just make more posts (which have not made me run out and buy more Oreos)?

  • The big takeaway marketers need to take from this is that social media isn’t 9-5 M-F. If your audience is on Twitter late at night or on the weekend, that’s when you need to be on. I know so many companies that don’t have anyone who can handle an after hours trend.

    Second, a happy medium is the best solution. Most small companies don’t have a graphics guy who can whip up something moments after a social media event, but there are events were you can plan ahead. You should be taking advantage of what’s trending in TV every week, new movies coming out, big sporting events. These are predictable so there’s no reason not to have a campaign prepared.