A couple of weeks ago, most of America watched in disbelief as half the stadium lights inside the Superdome suddenly went dark.
During the Super Bowl.
If you eat, drink, sleep and breathe pro football like I do, that’s enough to send you into a full-scale panic. Is this how six months of football ends? Thankfully, the problem was resolved in less than an hour, and we were all rewarded for our patience with one of the most exciting Super Bowl comebacks in NFL history.
But during the blackout, a bored America flexed its social media muscle like never before, with millions racing to their phones and tablets to tweet the funniest explanation for the power failure, or create a top trending hashtag. And in true Super Bowl fashion, the advertisers weren’t far behind.
Within minutes of airing its Wieden-produced “Whisper Fight” TV spot, Oreo hit the Twitterwaves with a simple image showing a cookie over an ominous gradient. The line? “You can still dunk in the dark.”
Cue the droolfest.
“Perfectly zeitgeisty,” said BuzzFeed.
AdAge reported the image was retweeted 10,000 times in the first hour.
Suddenly, if your Super Bowl party didn’t have Oreos, you might as well have forgotten the guacamole.
And just like that, an unplanned event — and a medium more instant and interactive than television — broke the mold on advertising’s most expensive day. With a free tweet.
Now contrast Oreo’s rapid marketing response with Poland Spring’s daylong silence following its surprise cameo during Sen. Marco Rubio’s response to the State of the Union address. After battling dry mouth for a few minutes, Rubio awkwardly paused and reached for a half-pint bottle of Maine spring water during the live broadcast, sending social media into a flurry of activity. Missing, however, was an official response from Poland Spring. It was only on Wednesday afternoon that the brand released an image of a Poland Spring bottle sitting in front of a makeup mirror backstage.
Funny, but too late.
The window had closed in less than 24 hours. The moment had passed. All that remained was an awfully clever hashtag still making the rounds: #watergate.
Two brands. Two nationally televised events. Two very different responses.
In the battle of cookies versus bottled water, cookies won. But I could’ve told you that.