Crisis Management Lessons from Oreo’s Super Bowl Ad

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    Preparedness lands cookie company in the perfect position to make a move

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve probably heard about Oreo’s spur of the moment ad, crafted literally DURING the Super Bowl blackout, that has the social media world abuzz.

    For those who missed it, this is the ad Oreo tweeted during the extended down time:

    The ad is quite crafty, but what we’re really interested in sharing is how Oreo accomplished this. The following quote, from a MediaWeek article by Gordon MacMillan, explains how Oreo’s ad agency, 360i, pulled it off with such short notice:

    The agency said that the ad was “designed, captioned and approved within minutes,” according to Sarah Hofstetter, president of 360i.

    She said all the decisions were made in real time, as the marketers and agency members were sitting together at a “mission control” centre watching the game unfold.

    “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. Because the brand team was there, it was easy to get approvals and get it up in minutes,” Hofstetter told BuzzFeed.

    Laurie Guzzinati, a spokeswoman for Mondelez, which owns Oreo, said: “They saw a real-time opportunity with the power outage and jumped it, doing so in a social voice true to the Oreo brand.”

    The agency was able to get the ad approved so quickly because members of the Oreo marketing team were on hand to sign it off.

    While the team was mobilized this time to create something positive, Oreo and 360i were clearly set up to react to anything that could potentially affect the Oreo brand during the Super Bowl. Monitoring media channels in real-time, in a mission control room with reps from both the brand and marketing teams there, meant that regardless of what came up, they would be equipped and authorized to handle it. In fact, not only handle it, but handle it well, with messaging that remained consistent with the Oreo brand.

    This should come as a “how-to” lesson to other organizations. Being prepared and positioned to leap into action is absolutely critical to protecting and enhancing your brand’s reputation. This time, it resulted in the production of a scene-stealing Twitter ad, but next time it could just as easily mean that a crisis management strategy is put into action before negative sentiment can pick up steam.

    Congratulations to both Oreo and 360i, you’re doing it right.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]