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Super Bowl

Go Home, Real-Time Marketing. You're Drunk.

Oreo's Legacy: Brands (Including Drunk J.C. Penney) at the Super Bowl

By Published on . 1

This year's Super Bowl buzz fixated on a seemingly buzzed brand.

Little more than twenty minutes after kick-off, people began to wonder whether J.C. Penney's social media command center was located inside a bar. The brand's first illegible tweet seemed like something Grumpy Cat would post after a couple kegstands. Another tweet followed less than an hour later, and people on Twitter piled on.

Even other brands -- including Snickers, Pizza Hut, Coors Light, TGI Fridays and Adobe Marketing Cloud -- took some shots.

It turned out that the person handling J.C. Penney's Twitter account wasn't drunk, just cold.

Whatever was going on with J.C. Penney's tweets, they proved the most exciting real-time marketing of this year's Super Bowl XLVIII. Aspiring real-time marketers should return to their social media command centers and think on that.

Every brand wants its Oreo moment. In the past a brand "won" the Super Bowl by airing that year's most talked-about TV spot. Then last year Oreo tweeted a reaction to the Super Bowl blackout that cast a shadow over the broadcast's brands. And a light bulb went off: Brands could overtake an event if they were quick-witted.

Since Oreo's blackout tweet -- from the #royalbaby to The Grammys -- marketers have seized on any and all opportunities to inject their brand into a communal affair. But no opportunity looms larger than the Super Bowl. All other events served as "brand newsroom" practice for the big game.

Minutes before kick-off, Oreo abdicated the throne. A new real-time marketing champion would be unveiled. Instead like the Denver Broncos, the contenders revealed themselves to more closely resemble spectators, of the game and each other.

As to be expected, brands tweeted about the game itself. Many had stocked up with some form of photo or video intended to publish instantly after certain types of plays. Neither Bud Light nor Butterfinger were taken off guard by the safety that started the game. And Domino's Pizza anticipated a pass interference flag.

Hours before kickoff, Tide's external PR agency Devries Global emailed reporters that the brand would be tweeting and posting Vine videos in reaction to other brands' TV spots. By game's end, Tide had sent some variation of this tweet to almost 20 brands.

Tide may have been the prolific brand commentator, but Cheerios, SodaStream, and Microsoft's Xbox also engaged other brands.

Jaguar even smack-talked Maserati's TV spot.

And Verizon Wireless and Doritos had their own tete-a-tete.

Papa John's, Domino's Pizza, DiGiorno, Chobani, SodaStream and H&M all tweeted halftime-show quips.

Unfortunately, aside from the J.C. Penney's drunk-not-drunk question, nothing memorable took place during this year's Super Bowl (not even the game). Although there were close calls.

IKEA could have ended things early. Instead BuzzFeed -- and other non-brands -- tweeted out the similarity between NFL legend Joe Namath sporting a fur coat and a monkey found wearing the same at one of the retailer's Canadian stores.

And Buffalo Wild Wings earns an honorable mention. Having previously campaigned on the ability to control game outcomes, the restaurant chain wittily decried the Super Bowl blowout.

To be fair to this year's brands, last year Oreo didn't do much different. It was simply blessed by a something exciting to react to -- and novelty. A year ago few people expected a brand to participate on social media like a normal person. A year later that has become the norm.

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