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Coke and Oreo: Battle of the Legacy Brands

The battle of the brands became as unpredictable as the game of football itself last Sunday night during the Super Bowl.  Just as great victors rise above and capitalize on the unforeseen circumstances of the game, so too did one of America’s oldest brands.

100 year-old Oreo proved that successful old dogs are constantly learning new tricks.  Within minutes of the black-out in the Super Dome, the advertising team created and tweeted this image.

Dunk in the DarkThe image was also posted to their Facebook page just as quickly.

Dunk in the Dark FBThese screen shots were taken today for this post.  As you can see there has been a great deal of fan love on both Twitter and Facebook: 15,736 Retweets, 5,829 favorites on Twitter, 6,987 shares on Facebook, 21,018 likes, and 815 comments as of this morning.

So how does such a big corporate brand pull off such agility?  According to an article in Forbes, their social strategy to support their planned Super Bowl advertising positioned them to take advantage of whatever real-time opportunities came their way.

VP of Cookies at Mondelez International Lisa Mann, spoke to Forbes about the social media slam dunk for Oreo:

“The way this all came about is because of the Super Bowl spot and because we were coming off the 100th birthday, we chose the Super Bowl to kick off this campaign of, which part of the cookie do you love more? Because we picked such a big stage, we decided to have a social media command center, so that we could respond real time to buzz,” Mann said. “Of course we couldn’t have anticipated the blackout, but in that command center we had brand people, agency people. Because everyone was together, they had everyone in place to jump on a real-time marketing opportunity, which was, how would Oreo see the blackout? And Oreo saw the blackout as an opportunity to dunk in the dark.”

The campaign Mann refers to is the #CookieThis #CreamThis Instagram campaign where lovers of the little black and white cookies settle the argument over which is the best part of the cookie and challenge Oreo artisans to recreate their images out of either cookie or cream.

Cream this


The confection sculptures are pretty amazing in their own right, as you can see.  But the creative just keeps coming with the text.  Love the caption on this one 🙂

So, thanks to being poised for a flood of Instagram photos, Oreo makes it big in real-time.

While Oreo had a stellar night, the perennial Super Bowl advertising king, Coca-Cola, fell soundly from the throne.   How many of you remember the days of Mean Joe Green?

Classic Mean Joe Green Coke CommercialIn the hopes of capturing some interactive fun this year, Coke offered beverage fans the opportunity to determine the winner of a wild and thirsty race through the desert.

Unfortunately for the 125 year-old legacy brand, the idea failed in concept and in execution.  Mashable highlighted the practical failure of the interactive ad.

As soon as the ad ran, the site lost all interactivity, though it came back at times. For many viewers, there was no more voting, no video, just the lonely Coke bottle in the sand dunes.

Coke was hoping to collect votes during the game. The plan was for Coca Cola to run an ad with the winning team in a complete narrative right after the game ends. At this writing, the site’s interactivity has gone up and down several times.

To top it off, the commercial itself managed to offend people rather than engage them.  Alexis Kleinman noted for the Huffington Post:

Coke’s commercial sparked controversy before the website even went down. When the first part of the commercial was released, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee criticized the commercial, saying that it showed Arabs in an unflattering light. The first part of the commercial shows an Arab man with a camel looking at the large Coke bottle longingly, but viewers were not allowed to vote for him to win the race. Coca-Cola has apologized.

What ideas, inspiration, and lessons will you take away from the hits and misses of the legacy brands and their efforts to engage fans?


Category SEO
Michelle Stinson Ross Director of Marketing Operations at Apogee Results

Michelle Stinson Ross is a digital marketing industry recognized authority on the outreach power of social media. She has worked ...

Coke and Oreo: Battle of the Legacy Brands

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