Countless brands and agency teams are mobilizing this week, hoping to be crowned king of real-time marketing at Super Bowl XLVIII. Looking to Oreo's blackout tweet as the holy grail, they're beefing up state-of-the-art war rooms with copywriters, community managers, designers and a direct line to the client, so that every awkward, memorable, meme-worthy moment can be translated into the branded social post to end all posts. If this describes you, I advise you to please, stop.
Brands are going to be surrounding the Super Bowl like a thousand hyenas circling their prey, ready to pounce at any semi-memorable moment. Your brand's jokes and commentary will be competing against countless others, choking up your audience's feeds. Don't get drowned out in the cacophony.
If your brand has an authentic tie-in, or history with the Super Bowl, by all means tweet your heart out on game day. But don't dump resources into the Super Bowl if the event doesn't jive with your brand. Does your brand have a connection to music? Try an awards show. Fashion? Go nuts during Fashion Week. Find events or holidays that fit your brand's voice, purpose and audience. Less competition means fewer brands competing over the same moments and recycling each other's jokes. It also means a less clogged social feed for your audience, where you have a better chance of standing out.
When Gmail went down last week, dozens of brands tried to use the mishap to their advantage with real-time marketing tweets. Did they get their Oreo moment? The most popular articles the next day showed off the lamest social posts, with Yahoo picking up a massive amount of negative press for calling out Gmail's malfunction. The "What Brand Failed During the Holiday" article has become a popular genre on sites like Buzzfeed. People love the awkwardness of brands attempting to act human or come off as witty commentators.
Everyone loves a good David vs. Goliath story, and Oreo earning more attention with a single tweet than brands that paid millions for their TV spot was the ultimate marketing upset. So why is it unlikelly that your brand will be the next Oreo? Ads are competing with second-screen social experiences, but on social you're competing with a cacophony of millions. You've got to have unbelievably good game to get noticed and shared.
Still, maybe you find the cost low enough that it's worth a shot, and you're itching to be part of the national conversation. Fair enough. If you're going to do the war room, do it right. Take pains not to recycle other brands' tweets by assigning someone to monitor brand activity across platforms. If there's a blackout-like moment, keep in mind that you're competing with every other brand to capitalize on it, and that 95% of you will probably get more negative press than brand love. Find a niche or angle so that your brand can say something original. There's also the possibility that your brand will be the only one that can really capitalize on some aspect of the event, like Arby's with Pharrell's hat on the Grammys. Then it's about sussing out the best way to react to that moment, and scoring that glorious touchdown.