For those of you who are anti-Super Bowl and avoiding any news outlet since Sunday (in which case, how did you get to this blog?), you may have heard that there was a massive power outage during Super Bowl XLVII. Right after the start of the third quarter nearly half of the power went out in the Superdome and delayed the game for over 30 minutes. Then, a brilliant moment in advertising occurred.
Oreo tweeted “Power out? No problem” with a simple image of an Oreo in a black and white gradient background, with the caption “You can still dunk in the dark.” It was out within the half-hour of power outage and was executed by 360i with the brand team from Oreo in the room giving the approval.
Now are more people going to see hastily made image on Twitter or Facebook than the Super Bowl commercial Oreo paid for? Debatable, but probably not; and are people going to start stocking up on Oreo’s because they were prompt with a response? It’s hard to tell. But one thing is for sure: it’s pretty impressive to see this kind buzz about a cookie company that’s been around for over a century.
What seems to be impressing people the most about this is the speed at which the tweet was delivered in the context of the big game. Rarely do advertisements have the edge of being timely with pop culture references; consider the Gangnam style pistachio commercial featuring Psy that was aired on Sunday. It may provoke a laugh out of a few people but that video has been out forever in internet time, and only shows that pistachio is late to jump on the bandwagon.
Although Oreo was one of the most talked about advertising successes from the big game, they weren’t the only one to try some non-traditional marketing during the big game. Michigan-based pizza franchise Hungry Howie’s had a Meta commercial about how they should make an ad with subliminal messaging, while flashing images saying “EAT PIZZA.” It went from funny ad to innovative marketing technique when, for barely a half of a second, it flashed instructions on how viewers to get free pizza. The only way for a viewer to capitalize on the ad would require viewers to first, notice the difference in the “subliminal messages” and second, have a DVR or a device to pause the commercial. It’s unclear as to whether this strategy will payoff for Hungry Howie’s, but it demonstrated a creative concept in what could have been an immediately forgettable ad.
Not every risky ad pays off though, as demonstrated by Coke’s “choose your own adventure” type ad. It started with Coke airing an ad a few weeks before the Super Bowl showing a cowboy, a bus of showgirls, and a group of Mad Max-like desert raiders all racing towards a giant Coke bottle in the hot desert. The end of the commercial encouraged viewers to go online and vote for which group they’d like to “win” the race and get the Coke, with the results aired in a commercial after the Super Bowl was over.
Fun concept, except Coke could not catch a break in the execution of the concept. At the very start of the commercial, a stereotypical Arabic man is seen sweating in the sun with a camel, staring at the giant Coke. Groups were offended that the Arabic man was shown in such a cliché way, and that he wasn’t even eligible to “win” at the end of the commercial. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the website hosting the voting crashed several times when viewers were allowed to choose their favorite to win the race, popping back online and off again several times during the big game.
It’s unclear how successful the ad would have been without the detriments it had going towards it. I think the idea of fans voting on a commercial’s outcome is pretty cool and engaging, but not in a narrative form that Coke set up. I mean, who really cares about the plot of a commercial? Then again, many of the commercials I’ve heard friends and co-workers say was their favorite I didn’t care for. In the end, that’s what Super Bowl commercials have developed into: the world’s most expensive marketing dartboard, usually producing more misses than bullseyes.
Which Super Bowl commercial do you think was the most innovative?