Don't get me wrong. That was one special tweet. I'm sure it led
to a spike in Oreo sales. OK. That's not fair. Social-media
communication is about engagement, not direct sales. So I'm sure it
led to a massive brand-awareness boost for Oreo. At least among the
ad-industry people who actually had their faces shoved into
marketing-related tweet streams on the night of the game. But I
haven't been able to find one normal, non-marketing-American who'd
ever heard of the Oreo tweet.
If Oreo is the best we can do, it's not saying much. I don't
mean to pick on Oreo. It's simply the thing that gets trotted out
as the pinnacle of the form. I know Coke has done some over the
last couple of years, but aside from polar bears wearing scarves, I
couldn't tell you what it was or what it was meant to
A little sleuthing turned up an NCAA March Madness deal in which
highlight clips that were dropped into Twitter. That was a useful
service for fans. But who's going to remember that AT&T
sponsored those NCAA tweets?
Will it be more or fewer than those who remember AT&T
most-recent real-time marketing spectacular? The company as well as
a number of other marketers decided it would be appropriate for
them to commemorate 9/11. "Look at those marketers. They're so
patriotic!" is not the reaction many people had. Those who noticed
only pointed out the bad taste of companies marketing around a
national day of loss. That bit of buzz spread all the way to the
Again, maybe I'm not being fair. A colleague noted that when
part of the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down by the Supreme
Court, some brands jumped into the fray, much to the delight
gay-marriage supporters. But many of us were too busy celebrating
to go scouting around for tweets from that substantial part of the
population so opposed to gay marriage that they gave Chick-fil-A
record sales days after its so-called PR disaster.
But all of that is likely irrelevant.
Ultimately, the fact is that real-time marketing -- even in the
worst cases -- is noticed by few and forgotten by most.
Maybe your time -- real and otherwise -- would be better spent
jumping on the next marketing trend.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
is the managing editor of
Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter at @kenwheaton