Iconic Ads/ Tweets: Oreo – Dunk in the Dark

Oreo capitalised on an event which was topical. However the preparation was what drove the success

In the third quarter of the American football game between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers in 2013, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, there was a power outage. The incident lasted for thirty-four minutes, during which time the lighting in the stadium was cut off, and watchers of the game on television were left wondering why the broadcast was abruptly halted.

There was no other brand that was able to pull off “more fancy footwork” than Oreo, even though the football teams, supporters, and spectators were literally kept in the dark.

By publishing a short message on its Twitter account, the well-known cookie brand was able to capitalise on the outage.

The Preparation

The tweet was sent as part of a well-architected social media campaign that had the brand ready to react to anything the Big Game threw its way.

Oreo’s social media management team decided to set up a social media command centre for the brand to react to real-time buzz during the 2013 Super Bowl. This was done as part of Oreo’s sponsorship of the event.

People from the integrated creative and media firm 360i, as well as representatives from all of Oreo’s other partner marketing agencies, such as Wieden+Kennedy, Mediavest, and Weber Shandwick, worked together in the command centre to coordinate the marketing campaign, along with members from the Oreo brand team.

Obviously, nobody could have expected that the power would go out. However, once it took place, all of the representatives who were part of the command centre were able to seize a real-time marketing opportunity. 

Michael Nuzzo, creative director at 360i; Lisa Mann, vice president of cookies at Kraft at the time; and Sarah Hofstetter, chief executive officer of 360i, were the major personae.

This manner of operating, on its whole, had not been anything novel in any sense. The idea of a war room was not novel at all. Since 2012, they had been operating in this manner continuously.

Actually, that tweet took two years in the making. Everyone believed that it had just taken place at that time. The preparation was the crux of the publishing of the tweet. The combined team maintained these daily content schedules across all social channels, and daily they went through this process of reviewing the content calendar. Everything, with a few notable exceptions, had been thought out in advance.

They selected several events. They were aware that they would be participating in the Super Bowl for the very first time. They were aware that they needed to be prepared.

The team had a dress rehearsal the day before the Super Bowl, during which tasks were assigned to each member of the client team and the combined agency team.

The Incident

On the 13th of February, 2013, a Sunday. 

The match.

And the power suddenly cuts off.

The darkness began not long after the halftime break had ended. There were ten members of the squad present in the room. Nuzzo was occupying a swivel chair, and he was carrying a pulled pork slider in his hand. And just like that, bang. He turned back and looked at the people before saying, “We should probably do something.”

Additionally, Hoffstetter (who was not physically present at the site) quickly emailed with the subject line “Can we do something?” And Michael Nuzzo responded that he was already doing so.

This was a phrase that was thrown out by Nuzzo, and it went as follows: “You can dunk in a blackout.” The idea is present and topical. They quickly brainstormed on it. In less than sixty seconds, they had completed the post. After that, they asked the client, Danielle.

The associate brand manager at the time, Danielle, was there in the war room when everything took place. They had this mechanism for approval that everyone had agreed upon. The last person to give their permission was Lisa Mann.

Therefore, Danielle sends Mann an email in which she states, “I really want to say, ‘You can still dunk in the dark.'” After having a little time to herself, Mann proceeded to read it out loud to her daughters. After looking at the response her daughters gave, she responded with a “Yes, send.”


The message was published on Twitter, and only one day later, it received around 15,000 retweets, while the same post that was published on Facebook had nearly 20,000 likes. The picture of “Dunk in the Dark” was also responsible for 525 million USD worth of earned media impressions.

The number of people who follow Oreo on Twitter increased by 8,000, and the number of people who follow it on Instagram increased from just 2,000 (before the Super Bowl game) to 36,000 (after the Super Bowl game), with 16,000 photos relating to the “Dunk in the Dark” post uploaded from followers’ personal accounts.


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