Oreo’s meets the royal baby: the high tide of social media marketing?

Oreo’s ‘you can still dunk in the dark’ Superbowl stunt was the high watermark in social, creative marketing. Once you factor in the gushing reels of media reviews and commentary, the image meme reached arguably the same number of people who weren’t putting the kettle on during the blackout and were watching the 30 second ad spots in the commercial break.


At what cost? Approximately a few thousand bucks – the price of a bunch of agency creatives, a Photoshop jockey, and the time it took to tweet the file.

Think about that.

Zero strategic planning.

Zero focus groups.

Zero media costs.

Next to zero production costs.

Just a bunch of clever people in a room sat in front of Tweetdeck.

And there’s the rub. When all of the above are taken out of the mix, the only agency value add is the idea. And when the idea is so simple – as every successful social campaign idea has to be – then the Oreo campaign may just have proved that the least important factor in social marketing today is time on-the-clock agency support.

The work requires some smart and quirky thinking. But as it stands this becomes commoditised fast. For every new Oreo there quickly appear a thousand copy cats. You only have to look at the Royal news of the week to illustrate the point. (Oreo’s had it’s own spin – same format).

The main reason for easy commoditisation is the majority of these ‘engagement campaigns’ are not all that innovative. They are simply new branding formats delivered via new applications of existing technology. (Think of a quick turn of phrase, plant it on a product shot and punt it out on social channels.)

What does this tell us about creative services for social?

Firstly, lightweight campaign-level technology is not a competitive advantage for an agency. Nor is the manpower to drive it. The differentiating factor for 90% of agencies right now is in ideas – how brand concepts are applied to the medium.

Importantly, 99% of the royal baby content we’ve seen this week on Facebook is dross that anybody can execute. It’s anti-branding: a variety of ill-conceived visual gimmicks that bear no real relation to brand equity or brand value, all for the price of a Like. What Oreo can do, Charmin can do just as well. These are murky waters for any brand to swim in – and agencies too.

So, where next?

Let’s not kid ourselves. So-called ‘real time’ social marketing is a race to the bottom.

Brands haven’t yet figured out the right creative products for social marketing.

Creative agencies are ripe for disruption…

 Roger Warner is partner at Beyond

Read more from Campaign on tactical advertising around the royal birth

  • Adam Smith

    Royally desperate.

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