Best Marketing Responses to #SuperBowlBlackout

Today, spending $4 million dollar on a 30-second ad can be quickly eclipsed by creating the right material at the right time – especially if people are briefly distracted from an event as big as the Super Bowl.

That’s exactly what happened this evening at the XLVII Super Bowl when a power outage cut out lights to half the stadium, knocked sideline systems offline and even muted commentators Jim Nantz and Phil Simms.

While CBS Sports producers and directors undoubtedly scrambled to try to fill dead time, marketers jumped at the chance to create unique and relevant messaging, all within the 34 minute timeout between plays. 750,000 tweets were posted in the half-hour, according to Marketing Cloud, and brands certainly took notice.

I’ve briefly blogged about how @Oreo had an instant response to the Super Bowl Blackout.

Creating Relevant Messaging in Under a Half Hour. Amazing.

Within moments, others jumped on the bandwagon as well.

But perhaps you don’t have your creative agency on retainer at 9PM on a Sunday. Even some notable tweets appeared.

Because Mercedes Benz sponsors the Superdome:

And Audi sister-company Volkswagen reposting their ad from earlier in the night:

Budweiser conveniently just released Black Crown beer:

Switch To More Interesting Programming?

Tying the blackout to another network’s program as well: 

Since the lights are out anyways, some small-screen programming for the ladies: 

Where you can get your own blackout supplies?

So who was at fault when it came to the outage?

That debate was also waged on Twitter.

Entergy, the utility company for New Orleans claims they had nothing to do with it:

UPDATE: This tweet has since been deleted and replaced with:

CBS Sports claimed the feed coming to the stadium went down.

Is real-time marketing setting an unattainable benchmark? Does it lend itself to unapproved messaging, or is it all in fun and a test of our real creativity? Let us know in the comments.

UPDATE: How was the Oreo graphic so quick to production?

According to AdAge

The Oreo graphic was “designed, captioned and approved within minutes,” according to Sarah Hofstetter, president of the cookie brand’s digital agency of record, Dentsu-owned360iAll the decisions were made in real time quickly because marketers and agency members were sitting together at a “mission control” center, or a social-media war room of sorts, at the agency’s headquarters in the TriBeCa neighborhood of Manhattan. Among those who were there were two brand team members from Oreo, and nearly a dozen creatives, strategists, community managers and social-media listeners.

BusinessWeek added how quickly they moved, “from concept to posting in five minutes.

UPDATE 2: How quickly were brands bidding on blackout related terms?

Bionic Marketing on Quora:

According to the TwitterAds team, for example, advertisers started bidding on “power outage” as a sponsored search term within four minutes of the blackout.  Four minutes! 

UPDATE 3: Ironic Photo of Utility Employees

I found this photo of the employees of PG&E and BGE, the utility companies for San Francisco and Baltimore showing their support for their sports teams. Ironically, they may have needed to supply some bucket trucks too!



    1. Definitely. The likelihood that something happens is small, but when something does and you can create something relevant, it puts your brand on the same side as your fans and consumers. The brand thinks the blackout sucks as much as you do, and uses their resources to tell you that.

    1. Yes – very eloquently put. If you think about it, they’re really not that unique, and probably not the best for you anyways, but they’ve been able to really put themselves on the same level as your BFF.

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