To Instagram?  Or not to Instagram?  That is the question.  Oreo’s Instagram may have performed one of the most genius social media campaigns during the Super Bowl Blackout of 2013.  It all started when an unexpected power blackout occurred during the third quarter of the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers. The game was delayed 34 minutes which left the players and coaches anxiously waiting to resume.  On the other hand, this gave Oreo a chance to think on their feet and really drive their Instagram campaign to all those sitting and waiting at home or in the audience of the Superdome.  Why not? It’s not like they were going to be going anywhere any time soon!

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Prior to the blackout, Oreo’s Instagram was already advertising for its, “cookie vs. creme” battle.  Oreo’s original campaign started when the company posted on Instagram the battle that was to take place during the Sunday Super Bowl game.  Instagram users were asked to post on Oreo’s Instagram whether they were for “cookie” or “creme.” In addition, they could attach a photo of their choice that could potentially be sculpted from cookie professionals using either the cookie or creme of an Oreo.  If their photo was chosen to be sculpted, Oreo would post that image on Instagram for all to see.  As you can see in the picture on the left, Outback Steakhouse took a creative approach, displaying how Oreo creme would look in the shape of their famous Bloomin’ Onion.  This quickly became a hit. Oreo’s Instagram account followers had multiplied from 2,200 to more than 56,000 in just a few days!  But the fun didn’t stop there. Once the blackout hit, Instagram was quick to realize they should use this “dilemma” to their advantage.

Since the Super Bowl is revered by many as the Holy Grail event for advertising, Oreo had all of its key stakeholders gathered together in the same room when the blackout occurred.  Once the blackout struck, Oreo began working quickly and creatively.  The next move Oreo decided to do was to post on its Twitter account a new advertisementoreo-super-bowl-blackout-ad, “Power out? No problem,” to coincide with the Super Bowl blackout.  It seems safe to say that this post was able to go viral in minutes because of all those sitting at home and those attending the Super Bowl game, were now looking at their phones instead of the football field.  Thousands of people saw this real-time post from Oreo’s Twitter account, and most Twitter users found it to be genius!  Some positive responses on Oreo’s Twitter were, “Social Media Epic Win! You can still dunk in the dark RT @Oreo Power out? No problem.”  Another said, “@Oreo So quick?! Wow. Nicely done!”  From this social media campaign, Oreo was able to generate more than 15,800 re-tweets and nearly 6,000 favorites, and multiplied their Instagram followers by about 25!  Oreo’s simple yet incredibly effective ad produced substantial news coverage and commendation for the company’s creative flexibility.  Oreo’s campaign was fast, effective, and memorable, how?  Let’s talk about why it worked:

1.  Engage your audience.  Oreo’s idea of asking their Instagram and Twitter followers to participate in the “cookie vs. creme” campaign was a very smart move.  Those who already followed Oreo on Instagram loved it and this lead to thousands more to follow Oreo and participate as well.

2.  Simple involvement.  Oreo’s cookie or creme campaign was easy for followers to jump into.  There were not a lot of requirements, which is always a good thing.  All Instagram users had to do was post whether they were for “cookie” or “creme,” and then post a picture they wanted to see created.  Because this was simple and easy, the campaign was a success.

3.  Prizes for participation.  Posting “cookie” or “creme” was not the prize for participating in this campaign.  The real prize was Instagram users having the photo they chose to be sculpted with either the cookie or creme of Oreo’s.  What a fun and creative way to keep those who have already posted “cookie” or “creme,” to continue returning to Oreo’s page to see if their picture was transformed into a delicious masterpiece.

4.  Understand timing.  Oreo did two great things here.  First, it campaigned itself during the most American watched event, the Super Bowl, which is obviously a great time for any company to try and sell its name.  According to the Huffington Post, during the blackout Super Bowl, more than 106 million people were either watching the game at the Superdome, or in the comfort of their homes.  Second, Oreo recognized the blackout moment as a time to really drive their campaign home.  Without knowing at that time how long the power would be out, Oreo worked incredibly fast and used a real-time event to inspire its real-time Twitter post.  Which everyone loved!  It turned out it was 34 minutes, which was not long to create, approve, and post another campaign ad.

To learn more about social media and how it delivers results, you can refer to our blog on Keys Indicators Show Social Media Delivers Results.  Stay tuned next week to learn how Old Spice creatively and effectively utilized social media.