Battle of the Blackout

The Ravens weren’t the only winners last night.

The Ravens weren’t the only winners last night.

It’s the third quarter of Superbowl XLVII; the Baltimore Ravens are routing the San Francisco 49ers by 21 and looking like a shoo-in to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy.

And then, darkness. All of the lights in the Mercedes-Benz  (former Louisiana) SuperDome went out. Was Beyonce’s halftime performance that intense that it knocked out the power? Was this a strange ploy by the 49ers to show their fans some mercy?

CBS, who broadcast the event, started to repeat commercials they had already aired. Anything to keep viewers on their channel and not deviate somewhere else until the lights came back on.

Meanwhile, as spectators turned to Twitter and social networks to voice their opinions or follow the quickly created parody account @SuperBowlLights, several swift-thinking groups of marketers and brand managers saw an opportunity.

In a matter of minutes, these on-the-fly branding messages went viral.

Here are some of the brands that made a move:

And the winner is

Oreo got the most traction with almost 14,000 Retweets (as of four hours post-game) and also had the most visibility after being picked up by several online sites including Mashable and Buzzfeed.


And their media spend? $0. So how did they go about getting this done so fast?

According to the agency behind the on-the-fly ad, 360i, a subset of Dentsu, the Oreo brand team was right there with the agency since they were already airing Oreo’s Superbowl TV Spot (which coincidentally, increased Oreo’s Instagram following tenfold) – allowing them to concoct the idea and get approvals almost instantaneously.

The outcome was sweet for the Oreo brand and for all of us watching, but the fact is that not many brands have the courage to let content go live so quickly like this. It’s a true testament to the trust placed in a brand’s social media manager and the importance of making sure he or she fully understands the brand voice and messaging – we’ve seen far too many examples of rogue Tweets gone wrong.

Despite it all, one thing remains clear – the Ravens weren’t the only winners last night.

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