When the lights went out at the Superdome during the Ravens-49ers game, the ad agency for Oreo cookies quickly recognized it as a marketing opportunity.
The most talked about ad of Super Bowl XLVII could very well be one nobody watched — on TV, at least.
An on-the-fly ad tweeted by Oreo at 8:48 p.m. ET shortly after the lights went out at the Superdome during the third quarter of the Ravens-49ers game quickly went viral on social media. By Monday morning, it had been retweeted more than 15,000 times.
"Power out? No Problem," said the tweet, which featured a picture of an Oreo cookie alongside the tagline, "You can still dunk in the dark."
Monday-morning advertising quarterbacks called the tweet a stroke of creative genius. As one commenter put it, "The lights went out and a new era in advertising was born."
"Someone's getting a raise," one branding agency quipped.
The tweet ad was the brainchild of 360i, a New York-based digital marketing company.
"Beyond the events a brand can plan for are the naturally occurring social phenomena that rise up in culture every single day. These unexpected 'events' inside of larger events are often the fodder of the most buzz, and therefore provide brands with an opportunity to join the conversation," 360i explained in a blog post Monday.
"So, when viewers and commentators alike grappled with an unforeseen break in the middle of Super Bowl XLVII, we saw an opportunity to enter the dialogue in a way that would garner the attention and respect of Oreo's audience. Given the lapse in game-play, the timing was perfect to own the moment."
360i President Sarah Hofstetter said the agency was able to act fast because some of its best minds were sitting with key brand executives from Oreo and its parent company, Mondelēz, in a "command center" at offices in New York during the Super Bowl, perennially one of the most-watched events on television.
"We had a mission control set up at our office with the brand and 360i, and when the blackout happened, the team looked at it as an opportunity," Hofstetter told BuzzFeed.
"Because the brand team was there, it was easy to get approvals and get it up in minutes."
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Oreo had already aired a "Cookie vs. Cream" ad during the game. So with Oreo executives already in the room, it was quick to pull the trigger on the ad-on-the-fly tweet when the lights went out.
"You need a brave brand to approve content that quickly. When all of the stakeholders come together so quickly, you've got magic," Hofstetter told Buzzfeed.
Laurie Guzzinati, a spokeswoman for Mondelēz, told MSN News the group in the room was brainstorming "how would Oreo see the power outage and what would Oreo do."
The result: "Oreo would see it as, wow, it would be a great opportunity to dunk an Oreo into a glass of milk," Guzzinati said.
"From the time of concept to post, five minutes transpired, which was quite amazing."
Oreo wasn't the only one using the power of Twitter to try to capture the attention of a restless audience during the 33-minute blackout.
Oreo's tweet ad likely got much more bang for the buck than the Super Bowl TV ads, which reportedly cost several million dollars apiece.
"That's just genius," said Michal Ann Strahilevitz, professor of marketing at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.
Unlike the traditional Super Bowl TV ads, "Someone had to come up with it in a few minutes — not in a few weeks or a few months. And that’s why it's causing people to tweet it," she told MSN News.
"That's what creativity is. That's what brilliant marketing is. Social media lets you do that. You can't do that on TV. Social media lets you respond to something in the moment."
Twitter said this year's Super Bowl proved to be a super tweetfest, with more than 24.1 million tweets just about the game and the halftime show. By the beginning of the second half, the volume of tweets had already surpassed last year's tweet total.
The top game tweet topics: the power outage (231,500 tweets per minute), Jacoby Jones' 108-yard kickoff return for a Ravens touchdown (185,000 tweets per minute) and the Ravens winning (183,000 tweets per minute).
Illustrating just how fast advertisers moved in, Twitter said it took just four minutes for the first promoted tweet to appear against searches for "power outage."
Twitter didn't immediately provide a breakdown of statistics for the ads that ran during the game.
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