Dunking Oreos in the Dark: Creative and (Potentially) Powerful Application of Omni-Channel and Real-Time Customer Marketing Concepts


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First, why are Omni-Channel Marketing and Real-Time Marketing such important relationship, business, and overall value-building concepts in the agenda of each enterprise today? Given the now-essential inclusion of digital communication in any consumer strategy, real-time marketing represents the opportunity to have in-the-moment interaction with customers.

An intriguing recent real-time and omni-channel marketing example that comes up with some frequency is the Oreo’s ‘dunking’ ad, shown during the Super Bowl, and created for production – literally – by the Oreo marketing and agency staff during the 34 minute blackout that occurred during the third quarter of the game. Its end-goal (pardon the pun), of course, was to use the real-time situation to sell more Oreo cookies; and, though the ad won both a Clio and Cannes Lion Grand Prix, two of advertising’s highest honors and awards, the jury is still out about how well it has actually accomplished this objective. However, this unique and timely approach to engaging consumers created a corresponding opportunity for consumers to make an immediate response – through techniques like ‘likes’, tweets and retweets, and other forms of expression. In fact, the “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark” posting to Twitter was retweeted over 10,000 times in the first hour after it first appeared, while the game was still in progress. And, these online (and offline) dialogues are only the beginning of methods brands can apply to connect with consumers.

While such interactions add to brand equity by making the product or service seem more ‘human’, interesting, and accessible, like the Oreo’s ad they often seem to generate little or no actual added revenue-producing value, at least in the short-run. That said, one of the obvious benefits of real-time marketing is the generation, and leveraging, of almost-real-time customer insights. Any company should be able to organize for, and execute, real-time marketing programs, meeting the needs of customers and increasing advocacy behavior to grow revenue and margins.

Next, how are Omni-Channel Marketing and Real-Time Marketing related to one another? Well, it’s all about the intersection of conversation, dialogue, and community relationship with prospective, current, and former customers. It also affects Big Data and customer-centricity for many organizations, because these approaches represent opportunities to focus employees and also to generate valuable customer and competitive information.

In the case of Oreo, the ad was a reflection of what goes on in consumers’ daily lives, so the challenge was to manage the context and information being passed along so that everything being communicated was similar, even identical. Oreo became a ‘center of knowledge’ about both the ad and its array of products, and was able to follow-up on the viral, informal communication spawned by the ‘dunking in the dark’ theme through both mobile and traditional modes.

Here, the end goal (again, pardon the pun) has been to achieve a unified and consistent communication experience, leading to a similar product usage experience result. It’s all about creating, sustaining, and tracking results, making sure that brands can reach potential and existing customers on every communication channel, digital and traditional, online and offline.

It means that customer advocacy behavior must be created, and the continuity of emotional resonance and content must be a constant focus. It also means that internal group silos and chimneys of information and effort need to vanish. IT and marketing must, for example, actively coordinate.

As marketers might express it, what any organization can learn from Oreo in terms of omni-channel approaches is awareness creation, timeliness, content consistency, consumer engagement and insight generation, and unique experiences.

You are invited to learn more about Omni-Channel and Real-Time Marketing during my session of the Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference, being held on August 15th: http://www.integratedmarketingconf.com/

Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC
Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC, specializes in customer and employee experience research/strategy consulting, and brand, customer, and employee commitment and advocacy behavior research, consulting, and training. He has authored seven stakeholder-centric strategy books and 400+ articles, white papers and blogs. In 2018, he was named to CustomerThink's Hall of Fame.


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