What Oreo Cookies Can Teach You About Social Marketing


The marketers working with Oreo cookies really made some big gains via Twitter during Sunday’s Super Bowl! When many of the lights went out just after the second half got underway, Oreo quickly posted a tweet with a photo reminding people that even in the dark, one could still dunk an Oreo. The tweet got a lot of attention and the company continues to bask in the afterglow as analysts keep chewing on it. There’s lots we can learn from this too!


Certainly it demonstrates that the Oreo brand grasps how the marketing world has fundamentally changed with the coming of social media channels such as Twitter. While other brands may be struggling to shoehorn social channels such as Twitter into outdated perceptions and marketing strategies, Oreo avoided the cookie cutter mentality and creamed the competition.



As SimplyMeasured.com pointed out, the thousands of retweets and tweets regarding Oreo and the multitude of blog posts talking about it afterwards (such as this one) rival the reach and buzz of a successful TV ad.


So what was it that Oreo did right here?

They knew there was a conversation going on and where it was

They realized people would be jumping on Twitter to comment when the power outage happened and they quickly moved to be part of the fun.


Shared the experience

Being relevant is key to your success in online marketing and there’s nothing more relevant than demonstrating in clear terms that you are tuned in and sharing the experience of the people you are trying to reach.


Participated in the conversation

When the lights went out at the Super Dome, everyone was coming up with jokes about the sudden “twilight on the turf.” Oreo jumped right in and without being stupid or offensive, had people chuckling right along with them.  We all like to chime in with that good joke at the right time (like when something unexpected happens) and Oreo showing a sense of humour just makes them that much easier to relate to.


Showed they are alive

Brands talk about enjoying life a lot, but how often do we actually experience them doing that? OK, I get it, a bag full of Oreos is not going to show up at your pub and join in a game of darts, but if you want to relate to your audience, let them know there are people behind the brand…real actual people. It’s easier to relate to the people behind a brand when you know they live in the same world you do.



It is better to join the conversation than it is to try to control it

The new reality of social media means that brands just can’t control the conversation anymore. Most haven’t realized this yet, a few are struggling with it and some as Oreo did with the Super Bowl tweet seem a bit further along with their evolution from a push marketing mindset to a pull marketing reality.


How can you capitalize on something like this after the fact?

It used to be that you generated the buzz then let other people carry on the conversation, but now you have multiple direct channels to keep that buzz going and thus, working for you. Hey, it’s a good thing others are talking about you, but you want to be talking too! And remember! You can leverage conversations about topics not directly about your brand so long as you always focus on participating rather than possessing or controlling.


  • You can talk about what others are saying about you on blogs, your email newsletter and add to the commentary or gently correct any factual issues
  • Share the buzz! Each time someone tweets, blogs or pins about you and so on, share it on your social channels and compile and connect it all via your email marketing newsletter
  • Run a contest based on the experience. In the case of Oreo cookies, they could run a contest (maybe they have already) asking people what stops them from dunking
  • Follow the conversations to indentify influencers you may want to work with
  • Run surveys after campaigns or promotions and ask people what they liked and what you could do differently — share that insight and learn from it


Maybe brands don’t need 7 foot tall talking tigers anymore

There was a time when brands needed mascots to humanize them (as contradictory as that may sound). Traditional media’s standardized and confining format probably made using proxies a necessary evil.  However with the direct connection social media channels such as email and Twitter offer today, brands can be human themselves, if they have the desire to connect and let the humans who work for them be so.

What about you? What tips would you offer to get people talking and keep the conversations going?

  • Awesome post Jim! I like your idea of “Joining the Conversation” over “Controlling It”

  • Jim_Ducharme

    Hi Rishi,

    Thanks! You just made my day! You can’t control a conversation online – like trying to squeeze water in your fist.