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  • Writer's pictureKanhaiya Maheshwary

Real Time Marketing (RTM) lessons from Oreo's 'Dunk in the Dark' Campaign

Over the last decade, digital platforms have been instrumental in changing the way marketing works. Marketing is no longer only about huge brand campaigns that take months to conceptualize and a few more months to execute. Owing to social media platforms, interesting conversations and are happening in real time. And thus, every moment comes with an opportunity for brands to take advantage and create something that can reach millions of people even without spending a fraction of the money it would otherwise take to reach as many people through mass media.

Oreo's Dunk in the Dark

And that's precisely what Oreo did during the Super Bowl game between San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens on Feb 3, 2013. Just for context - Super Bowl happens to be one of the most expensive advertising avenues, with roughly $5 million spent by advertisers for a 30 second slot. After all, about 100 million people are glued to their screens while the game is on. But as I said, in the age of digital media, it doesn't take an expensive campaign to reach people and make an impact.

While the game was on, Oreo had its creative agency 360i on stand-by, waiting for an opportune moment. There was a power outage which halted the game briefly. Having waited for such an opportunity, 360i (on behalf of Oreo) put out this tweet at 8:48 pm:

The Results

Simply put, Oreo and 360i changed social media marketing forever. They showed how powerful taking advantage of a situation can be if the ad is relevant to the context.

Within a few hours, the tweet was re-tweeted 15,000+ times and was seen all over the world.

On Instagram, Oreo noticed its follower count rise from a mere 2,000 before the game to 36,000 after the game, and a rise in Facebook likes by 14,000. And 360i, the creative agency, won several awards at various advertising functions for their quick wittedness.

Real Time Marketing Lessons from Oreo's Success

So far, I haven't even conceptually defined what Real Time Marketing means since I thought showing Oreo's campaign would do much more justice than giving out a textbook definition. However, as you might have already guessed by now, Real Time Marketing involves reacting to a situation in real time, or near real time in a way that is relevant to both your brand and the situation being talked about. In the case of Oreo, it used the concept of 'dunk' to link NFL's most famous celebration of dunking over the goal post with Oreo's cookies which are most enjoyed after dipping (dunking) them in milk.

There are a lot of lessons to be learnt from Oreo's success. I'll present my 4 Ks -

Keep Listening

Listening involves both social listening as well as keeping an eye on what's happening offline. The entire concept of real time marketing is about responding in real time, and therefore you need to be alert about what's happening on the world wide web as well as monitor important situations happening in the world. Invest in good social media tools to monitor the trending buzz words and conversations happening around your product category or brand.

Here's a very simple but effective example of being engaged in real time. It can only happen if you are listening to the relevant topics.

Another example of real time social media listening, enabling a brand to generate relevant conversations.

Keep it Contextual

I can't emphasize enough on how important this is. Over the past few years, I have seen brands mindlessly trying to hijack trends even if their brand doesn't fit in well. As a marketer, you should ensure that your brand and the creative concept fit in well with the context being discussed. Oreo used the word dunk cleverly in this context.

Know your Audience

You would argue that this is a generic statement applicable to all of marketing. Of course, that is true but let me explain what I mean by this. Knowing your audience's behavior is key to determining how viral your campaign can go.

In Oreo's case, as soon as the power went off in the stadium, their creative team knew that the entire attention of the TV viewing audience will shift to Twitter for various reasons. A lot of people would use Twitter as a source of updates to monitor the stadium situation, whereas some others would use it to find small bits of content to interact with until the game resumed. In either of those cases, Oreo had the people's attention.

Keep it Real

Brands have been investing heavily in automated response systems in order to deal with the overwhelming volume of customer service queries they might be receiving. However, you don't want your bot to put out a Tweet during important times, thus self-sabotaging taking advantage of that situation. Always keep people in charge of social media accounts and use automation only as a means to supplement them, not replace them. An authentic tweet coming out from a human will always be appreciated over a string of impassioned robotic tweets.

While unrelated, this is an example of what can happen if you don't keep it real.

Got any more examples of great Real Time Marketing? Feel free to drop in the comment below.


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