Two weeks ago, when a Super Bowl blackout joke tweeted from the cookie's account went viral, Oreo got for free what other companies pay tens of thousands of dollars to Twitter to approximate. You could almost feel the Earth tremble as thousands of marketing directors furiously pecked out emails to their social media managers asking why their brands hadn't Won the Super Bowl and, more importantly, asking how to get a piece of the action.
What Oreo did wasn't strictly new — brand accounts have been attempting topical jokes for as long as they've been on Twitter — but the post was unusual in that it both bore the marks of a professionally produced advertisement and it worked, at least for the 20,000+ people who reposted or favorited it. Executives from Oreo were involved, as was an ad agency. This wasn't just some Nabisco social media intern getting lucky. It was the unmistakable offshoot of a traditional advertising campaign.
Last night Oreo tried again, with little success, to insert itself into a massive Twitter conversation:
Kellogg, too, turned around an insta-ad, pictured at the top of the post. It was blasted out to reporters this morning accompanied by a pitch:
It's worth noting that the Special K post had been retweeted just 11 times when the pitch went out. In other words, by the time reporters saw it, the campaign had been a demonstrable failure for nearly 12 hours.
The next one will likely be a failure too, as will the 10, 20, or 100 after it. But the brands won't mind — an unsuccessful insta-ad is by definition an insta-ad nobody sees or cares about. Eventually, one will catch, and another, and another. The ads will become less strained as surely as Twitter users will acclimate to their presence, and they will eventually and inevitably become an expected — and accepted — part of watching live events online.
It's not a matter of if, and certainly not a matter of how. The precedent is set. Twitter users have the let the ad men in through the side door, and there's no kicking them out.