Dunking in the Dark: Striving to Measure the Impact of Digital Dominance

During the Super Bowl in 2013, the most memorable event wasn’t a touchdown, but rather the power outage that delayed the game by 34 minutes.

Who stole the show? Oreo and their “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark” tweet that was shared more than 14,000 times along with 20,000 Likes on Facebook.

The world was amazed that a legacy brand was able to pull off such a tweet in real time, but as it turns out, it had been months in the making.

Six months earlier, Oreo had brought in Bonin Bough to give the billion dollar brand a personality and voice in pop culture as part of its 100th anniversary.

As an article about Oreo in Fast Company says, “you need to get lucky, you need internal discipline … and you need a really strong voice” to participate as a brand in culture.

Lady luck appeared for Oreo early in 2012 in conjunction with a 100 day social media campaign called the “Daily Twist”, which integrated the brand with the news of the day. The start of the campaign coincided with Gay Pride. As a result, the company got credit for making “a bold social statement from an iconic brand, but that wasn’t Oreo’s intent.” Because of the timing, the campaign received attention it likely would not have otherwise received.

This bit of “luck” (otherwise known as what happens when preparation meets opportunity) confirmed the strategy that ended up providing the internal structure and ability to respond in real time, which was on full display when the power went out during the big game.

Mindshare Generates Results

Oreo’s overall digital objective is to create content whether it be the Twist, Lick, Dunk app that became the #1 mobile game app in 15 countries or celebrity chefs creating YouTube videos highlighting creative ways to cook with Oreos (Snack Hacks) that generated 750,000 views a piece.

Yet, what has Bough really excited is the opportunity to marry real time content/ad creation with programmatic buying so that the next time the power goes out while the world is watching, he can not only post to social media but also update his paid placements. According to Bough, “People look at [programmatic] as cost savings right now. It’s way more strategic.”

Bough and Oreo have committed to moving 50% of their $200 million marketing budget to digital initiatives by 2016. Yet, when asked to prove the ROI of these digital efforts, Janda Lukin the head of Oreo’s North American business admits, “There isn’t a great way for us to directly link it.”

In fact, last August Oreo’s parent company announced quarterly revenue was down 2% with increased profits due to growth of emerging markets and cost cutting, not digital marketing efforts in North America.

While the highly anticipated promise of superior accountability and impact of digital and social ads remains a work in progress, the mindshare that such efforts cultivate certainly drives business, just like PR does for a brand.

However, when Oreo was looking to drive sales in 2014, it went back to a tried and true marketing strategy, a movie tie-in with Michael Bay’s blockbuster Transformers: Age of Extinction

In fact, the digital tie in with the movie by Bough and his team, “proved to be too unwieldy.”

When looking at our clients, digital and social plays a key role. In fact we first introduced it to radio almost a decade ago. However, we’ve never seen a single  platform, even something hailed as the “holy grail or a magic bullet” able to achieve results on par with consistent marketing that features repeat and varied forms of contact.

What role does digital play in your station’s marketing mix? Send us your thoughts.

Thanks for reading. – Andrew

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