You wonder what the thing is that’s gonna be the moment you’re proud of
February 5, 2017 6:07 AM   Subscribe

"The blackout happened not long after halftime. There were 10 of us in the room. I was sitting in a swivel chair, holding a pulled pork slider. And it was, boom. I spun around and looked at the guys and said, 'We should probably do something.'" The definitive oral history of the Oreo "You can still dunk in the dark" Super Bowl tweet.
posted by How the runs scored (45 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I have read this ten times now and I'm still not sure if it's satire or not. (And thanks to MeFi's own ftrain for spotting it.)
posted by How the runs scored at 6:09 AM on February 5 [34 favorites]

Similarly befuddled and laughing at my total inability to tell if this is parody. This is fantastic.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:11 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]

You've obviously never been around ad people if you suspect this could be satire.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 6:32 AM on February 5 [30 favorites]

MINTCAKE: I thought about it for about five seconds and decided to press 'send.' It was that impulsive; almost directed from the heavens themselves. Minutes later almost five people had favorited it, easily a new record for me. I kept refreshing to ponder our brave new online world and look at it in all its glory: "BUPER SOWL"
posted by mintcake! at 6:32 AM on February 5 [12 favorites]

Yeah... having worked in or around the marketing industry for most of my adult life, I can back it up. There's nothing marketing people love more than the epic narrative of their own accomplishments, and there's nobody else as professionally qualified to make trivial bullshit into epic narratives than marketers.
posted by at by at 6:35 AM on February 5 [17 favorites]

For example:

> All in all, about 15 people worked on the tweet. [....] Michael Nuzzo, creative director, 360i: The whole way of working like this had not been anything new. The war room thing was not new. We’d been working like this since 2012.

translated: For at least eight weeks they'd been padding the contract by using over a dozen creatives to operate a single twitter account.
posted by at by at 6:38 AM on February 5 [23 favorites]

No matter what else you do, if this interests you then watch the linked video in the comments. I work in advertising and I get why this was "important" in my field, but the near-total lack of perspective is one of the funniest things about all of this for me. The only time they came close to any was the moment when they acknowledged that hey, we'd better make sure the blackout wasn't caused by a terrorist attack before piggybacking onto it.

I know I'm old and this is right in the middle of my lawn, but I do question how much I want to live in a world where an "Epic Tweet" is a thing people say unironically.
posted by Mchelly at 6:52 AM on February 5 [11 favorites]

We’d been working like this since 2012.

He says, about something that happened in early 2013.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:23 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]

I still liked Hydrox better.
posted by octothorpe at 7:25 AM on February 5 [11 favorites]

It's a football game tweet and they built it around the word "dunk".

posted by cortex at 7:27 AM on February 5 [93 favorites]

Epic solipsism.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:52 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]

Cortex, in some way you and I--and I dare say millions of others--will never understand, this is part of the reason they consider this epic.
posted by maxwelton at 7:59 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]

And Jesus appeared to the disciples, and said: Blessed are the poor, for they shall be with me in heaven.

The disciples heard him not, for they were distracted by a stone marten.

And Jesus frowned, and coughed, and tapped his fingers, even unto three or four seconds.. He said again: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

James said unto Peter: Didst thou just rip one off? Thy stench is foul in my nostrils. Peter answered him, saying: I deny it thrice. It issued forth from John. And John was filled with ire, and took up the stone marten, and smote Peter with it.

Jesus sighed and raised his eyes unto heaven, and muttered something which sounded a bit like mother, and a bit like forsaken. Finally, he said: You can still dunk in the dark.

And the disciples were sore amazed, and their jaws dropped even as the gates of Hell yaw open to swallow the souls of those who love not God, and words came there not.

The stone marten saw its chance and grasoed it, and fled to Mount Zion, where it scarpered up an olive tree and hid itself.

Lord, said Peter. That is genius.

Pure gold, oh Lord, said John. Verily, thou art on fire.

And James picked up the iphone of Jeremy, son of Ogilvy, and tweeted he unto the multitudes the words of Jesus, that all might marvel.

As ye sow, so shall ye reap, said Jesus, and a mighty trump was heard in the heavens.

And Peter said: I'd quit while you're ahead, Lord.

Jesus looked at him with a steady gaze, and said: I think you're tight, I'm outta here. Good luck.

But the disciples again heard him not, for they were already distributing the spoils of the awards which were to come.
posted by Devonian at 8:17 AM on February 5 [34 favorites]

Suddenly my entire feed turned into this fire hose of Oreo retweets

I am interested in your product and would like to subscribe to your newsletter
posted by chavenet at 8:43 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]

Devonian. Oh my god.
posted by potrzebie at 8:56 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]

All of these people need to go back into their "war room" and then we need to close the door, lock and barricade the exits, and trust that they will eventually run out of snacks and then die.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:36 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]

What makes this ring clearly non-satire for me (from the perspective of an academic in cognitive science who sometimes studies how advertising works) is that there's usually an extraordinarily outsized sense of value placed on the products of marketing. This plays out in many ways but from their perspective superbowl attention is unbelievably valuable, and widely viewed as the most important commercial moment each year (it certainly has the most viewers of anything). For example, compare it to human capital: just the airtime for commercials this year is running at around $5000000 for 30 seconds -- that's literally more money than someone making the US average household income will make in their entire adult working life (not to mention production costs etc). Imagine working in this context for a while -- it must be hard not to let it mess with your head.

It's also interesting to watch the superbowl ads with this in mind -- each one of those ads is probably more valuable (from someone's perspective) than you are. Really brings home some ideas about how individual humans fit into capitalism.
posted by advil at 9:39 AM on February 5 [9 favorites]

I have never heard of this tweet before. But, we have truly lost our souls if a fucking cookie has a Twitter account.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:41 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]

Um, I've got some bad news for you about literally all of Twitter.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:50 AM on February 5 [38 favorites]

we have truly lost our souls if a fucking cookie has a Twitter account.

posted by zippy at 10:05 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]

The epic story of how one of America's biggest and most successful confectioners got as many retweets as someone who calls himself "fart" this one time 4 years ago.
posted by shmegegge at 10:06 AM on February 5 [11 favorites]

It's a football game tweet and they built it around the word "dunk".


I thought I was just missing something because I'm English
posted by KateViolet at 10:30 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]

I really liked this, you guys. I'm sorry.

But I've been part of a super small creative team trying to figure out a time-sensitive social media post, and it really is kind of terrifying and thrilling, and yes, meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Still, there's SO MUCH to consider, even for a dumb old cookie. Is this a terrorist attack or not? Do we have approval to do this? How do we find the person to grant approval? I'm glad they did something they felt proud of, dunk or no dunk.
posted by redsparkler at 10:59 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]

Exactly, redsparkler. Anytime anyone manages to do something big and risky and improvised and they pull it off successfully at an international level, they deserve their moments of pride. Whether it's some quarterback in some football game calling an audible that leads to the game-winning touchdown or a small creative team getting just the right tweet at the right time, it's all worth celebrating.

The comments here remind me of the equally dismissive "they have too much time on their hands!" comments. I enjoy celebrating excellence even if it's in a football game or advertising surrounding said football game.
posted by bfootdav at 11:09 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]

They are right to feel good about it and we are right to think it is dumb.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:29 AM on February 5 [9 favorites]

Lisa Mann, then-vp of cookies at Kraft

I am guessing this is one of those times where the title is much cooler than the actual job.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:50 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]

The comments here remind me of the equally dismissive "they have too much time on their hands!" comments.

I dunno, as someone who has often been told that he has too much time on his hands I think the blink-and-"what" reaction has less to do with the idea that a marketing team hustled to get out a timely tweet—which, sure, that's what a lot of marketing/social teams do all day every day and it's the biz and why not be happy when it goes well—than with the ostentatious formality of treating it as something ripe for Oral History treatment when both the product and the content of that history are preeeeeeeetty underwhelming stuff.

What it reminds me of, I've realized, is director's commentaries on bland films where the filmmakers are basically blown over by what an amazing job they did of making their bland film. It's not that filmmaking isn't hard, or that they didn't do a good enough job by workmanlike standards of generating literally-a-film, or that they shouldn't be happy they made a thing that they like. It's the disconnect between what was actually accomplished and the amount of unselfaware Epic Narrative tied to accomplishing it. Being proud of your good tweet job is one thing, treating it as One Hell Of A Thing (and this may be largely on Digiday rather than the folks interviewed) is another. That's where it ends up looking pretty goofy and verging on satire, at least to folks outside that specific marketing headspace.
posted by cortex at 12:38 PM on February 5 [7 favorites]

I love the idea of a VP of cookies.

In terms of marketing, they got a ton of mileage out of a couple hours of work. That's pretty dang valuable if you're trying to firm your brand in the minds of consumers.

I work for a major retailer in the e-commerce division, and we basically sound just like this during Power Week (Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday). (We have a war room too.) I'm sure it does sound ridiculous out of context, but IN context, it's a lot to get excited about.
posted by Autumnheart at 12:39 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]

(And yeah, the ultimate thing here may be "blog post on digital marketing site written for digital marketing people doesn't play super well when it inexplicably gains the attention of a general internet audience", which, I suppose it's a good problem to have and qualifies as a sort of secondary digital marketing success story if you shoulder past the chuckling from the general public.)
posted by cortex at 12:43 PM on February 5

Imagine what kind of buzzspeak goes down in the accounting world around Tax Day. We probably wouldn't even understand it because it'd just sound like a bunch of numbers and acronyms.
posted by Autumnheart at 12:48 PM on February 5

is there no end to the genius of christopher guest
posted by poffin boffin at 1:57 PM on February 5 [7 favorites]

I think the only thing that could match the level of self-absorption in this oral history of the time somebody thought about saying a thing online and then said the thing online, it'd be the way New Yorkers steadfastly refused to shut up about the 2003 blackout for like five years afterwards. To the extent that I thought it was about that blackout and not technical difficulties at some sports game, until I remembered that Twitter wasn't a thing in 2003.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:29 PM on February 5

It's a football game tweet and they built it around the word "dunk".

This is the most amazing thing about it. All the marketing guys going "this was a real slam dunk for us. Honestly, we knocked it out of the park. It's just an ace in the hole for us, a real hole in one. Just, just a knockout punch of a tweet". I don't even follow football but this had me grinding my teeth in confusion.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:15 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]

It's a good tweet, to damn with faint praise. The article is definitely unintentionally hilarious stuff, great FPP material.

Oreos have been trying to penetrate the cram-throat UK biscuit market for a while now and their marketing has been uniformly terrible. A couple of years back we had TV ads of a young kid on a stoop, a concept largely only familiar to Brits via Stoop Kid from Hey Arnold!. He pulls his grotty biscuit in half as one might with a bourbon or custard cream, then proceeds to dunk it in his glass of milk for no appreciable reason. "Oh, that's what it means when they talk about milk-and-cookies on popular US shows like Sesame Street and Breaking Bad!" clocks I. The ethos of the ad is an ill-judged mish-mash of weird worthless how-not-to-eat-a-biscuit tutorial and a fruitless attempt at Young Werthers Sorry False Memory Injection. No-one in the UK young or old wants or needs to re-enact US cookie-consumption-cwirks, any more than an ad "teaching" Americans how to spread Marmite on toast such that it mixes correctly with the butter using your grandmother's favourite butter knife would find purchase. If it's good, eat it how you like!

Last year's Oreo push was an ad with bouncy internet-era, pastel, slightly-Japanese animation, complete with a kitsch amateur/enthusiast-sounding song. Very 2006, very try-hard, reverse-edgelord, but an improvement. This year though, bisc-shit got real. 5+ different flavour fillings thrown at the wall to see what might stick, prominently placed in every supermarket and discounted below half-price. Mint ones are alright until the flavour fails, peanut butter are filth fit only for dogs you especially dislike. At least they're trying to give the consumer what they (might) want.

The idiocy of it all is that there's an absolutely simple way to shift Oreos to us UK dunk-monkeys. It's essentially a round bourbon with a cream filling that's thinner than in literally every other biscuit of its ilk (custard/orange cream, Jammy Dodger, etc) including the budget supermarket-brand ones! Just put marginally more filling inside maybe, Oreo Inc.? Sorry if providing comparable customer satisfaction offends your profit motive, but you're clearly selling nowt here now.

Ore-o? Ore-nope!
posted by comealongpole at 4:19 PM on February 5 [12 favorites]

posted by comealongpole at 4:22 PM on February 5 [8 favorites]


Was that not the point? Football things could not be done in the dark, so "You can still spike in the dark" wouldn't work.
posted by Etrigan at 4:32 PM on February 5

The idiocy of it all is that there's an absolutely simple way to shift Oreos to us UK dunk-monkeys.

like why would they show a glass of milk instead of a mug of T E A

have they even HEARD OF THE UK
posted by poffin boffin at 4:52 PM on February 5 [5 favorites]

Just put marginally more filling inside maybe, Oreo Inc.?

The really ridiculous thing is that Oreo already makes this exact product, which they call "Double Stuf".
posted by tobascodagama at 5:01 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]

Nobody show this to Aaron Sorkin.
posted by dumbland at 10:34 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]

Less successfully: 30-sec shot of a potato with "ADVERTISEMENT" on it didn't appeal to younger audiences.

News site re-posts marketing blog which capitalized on the Super Bowl, attempts to salvage own guilt by endorsing competing product. Somewhat spoiling the joke IMO.
posted by sourcejedi at 6:09 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]

Disclaimer: I worked with this specific team at this specific agency during the period of time in question. I did not work on the relevant tweet.

First off, let me just say how refreshing it is to see a group of people reacting the way you guys are. My time in marketing led to a lot of weird mental baggage, including a total lack of sense of scope about things like this, and a propensity to use words like "ideate" as if they mean something.

But in case you'd like a little bit of context — context that the article leaves out because it assumes the audience knows this bit — that one tweet (regrettably) started the landslide of "timely" brand tweets that flooded Twitter over the next few years. Every time Hamburger Helper tweeted about the Oscars, or Geico made a branded post with a picture of its gecko dressed as an olympian, it was following in the wake of this tweet.

The advertising world is obsessed with the idea of "earned impressions"; essentially eyeballs on advertisements that no one had to pay for. Brands had been using Twitter as a source of earned impressions for years at that point, but the normal process of creating branded content was so slow (primarily because of the back-and-forth process with the brand's marketing and legal teams) that the tweets tended to be either "evergreen" (could be posted at any time) or timed to sync up with something scheduled way in advance (like christmas, or a big sale.)

It feels almost quaint now, but at the time, the idea that a major brand could be posting an image that was a response to something that was still happening as the tweet went out was pretty new. And like everything in advertising, the first one worked really well, because of novelty.

But that's the most important context missing from this article: the thing that made all the headlines in the advertising world wasn't actually the tweet itself (which, as people here have noticed, isn't all that impressive.) It was the process that generated it.

So Oreo got a ton of industry buzz, which made their marketing team look great. 360i (the agency) went from being a mid-tier agency without a ton of name recognition, to being fairly well known (albeit primarily for that one tweet.) And a million terrible branded tweets were launched.
posted by bluemilker at 7:59 AM on February 6 [19 favorites]

This is the most amazing thing I've ever read.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:21 AM on February 6

the way New Yorkers steadfastly refused to shut up about the 2003 blackout for like five years afterwards

An event which is cemented in my consciousness by - ironically - an advert.
posted by the latin mouse at 11:07 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]

The idiocy of it all is that there's an absolutely simple way to shift Oreos to us UK dunk-monkeys.

like why would they show a glass of milk instead of a mug of T E A

have they even HEARD OF THE UK

Of all the things wrong in the world, I remembered this this morning and got angry about it all over again, two days later, so I guess I don't have any stones to throw at the glass house where these marketing folks live.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:49 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]

I don't think this would have gone over so poorly here if they'd just reported the story. These oral histories have been drawing a lot of eyeballs in the last year, maybe. They're simpler to produce than a traditional story and are perceived as elevating the cultural relevance of the subject. This story doesn't hold up to the unspoken conventions of the form and triggers our negative reaction. In short, listicles when they're warranted, oral histories where they're earned, traditional journalism story structures by default.
posted by putzface_dickman at 6:04 AM on February 9

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