Breaking Down Oreo's Four Million Dollar Instagram Super Bowl

by Jason Keath on Feb 04, 2013
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Oreo Instagram Launch

Oreo launched their Instagram account yesterday with a Super Bowl commercial. Not such a small endorsement for the bourgeoning social network, from a major social media brand.

Facebook and Twitter saw far more mentions as closing calls to action in Super Bowl commercials. Twitter estimated, based on the brands they were working with, that 50% of commercials featured hashtags this year, encouraging the live Twitter discussion that dominates TV’s second screen.

Super Bowl First, Instagram Second

The average Super Bowl commercial cost $4 million this year for a 30 second spot. But Oreo’s commercial was not just to promote their new Instagram account. So any frivolous math about how $4 million dollars breaks down next to how many new Instagram followers Oreo gets is missing the point.

It was a Super Bowl commercial first and foremost. We confirmed this last night with Oreo’s PR team at Weber Shandwick. “We knew we wanted to kick off the next 100 years for OREO in a big way, and what better way than by bringing the long-standing disagreement of cookie versus creme to one of America’s biggest television events…” The last 4 seconds of the commercial, promoting Oreo’s Instagram account, were there to “extend the conversation from TV to online, to engage and excite passionate OREO fans.”

It was a well integrated campaign. And not a bad way to jumpstart a new social channel.

The integration can also be seen on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. Oreo teased the commercial launch on Twitter and Facebook, and soft launched their Instagram account to let fans in on the action early. As the commercial aired on TV, it also launched on Youtube and was pushed by their Facebook and Twitter accounts simultaneously.

In a few seconds the Oreo Instagram profile went from 2,200 followers to 15,000, reaching 35,000 followers by the end of Sunday night. And while this was just one commercial (albeit during TV’s largest event), Oreo’s PR firm let us know that they plan to re-air the spot over the next month and a half as well at least one other related ad. “The spot will continue to run through March 22. In addition to “Whisper Fight,” a second spot is slated to air starting March 11 through March 22.”

Creme vs. Cookie

The Instagram campaign itself was very creative. Oreo asked fans to Instagram random and creative images with either the #CremeThis hashtag or the #CookieThis hashtag. A team of Oreo artists would then pick winning photos to recreate with either cookie or creme from Oreo cookies, and nothing else.

Their creations are pretty mind blowing. Some real cookie sculpting skill is on display. At the end of Sunday night, Oreo had posted 30 total Instagram images for the cookie vs creme campaign. The last image posted on Sunday gives a not so subtle nod to the Today Show.

Oreo Instagram, Today Show

And according to Oreo they are continuing to work on these cookie and cream creations for 3 total days. “Over the course of a three-day period, OREO will select a number of photo submissions and work with a team of artists to create sculptures using the fan’s favorite part of an OREO, the cookie or the creme… This is happening live.”

What Does This Mean for Instagram?

Oreo’s was the only Super Bowl commercial that pointed to Instagram. But one Super Bowl commercial endorsing a social network is not such a small thing. It was only two years ago after all that Twitter was first endorsed in a Super Bowl commercial (then it was Audi).

We recently reported a list of the current Top 25 Brands on Instagram. A few of them are over a million followers and growing. Some big brands are starting to invest real time and money into Instagram as a serious platform. Instagram also recently announced they are hosting 90 million active users on the social network each month, roughly 67% of their total number of accounts.

Instagram continued steady growth and engagement is being noticed by brands in a serious way, despite some of the challenges of marketing on a photo only platform with no outbound linking.

The Blackout Tweet

Because Oreo had a “mission control” in place for their Super Bowl integration they were prepared and ready to respond to live moments within the game. Similar to the power of Oreo’s 100 day Daily Twist campaign, we saw the impact of this live creative talent when the Superdome suffered a blackout in the 3rd quarter.

According to Oreo, it took them 5 minutes to respond with this tweet.

To be fair, other brands responded in realtime to the blackout as well (AudiWalgreensTidePBS), ome generating similar amounts of engagement.

Oreo’s message on Twitter was retweeted 14,000 times on Sunday. According to Oreo it is the most popular post they have ever had on Twitter and their 5th most popular Facebook post.

Post Author

CEO and founder of Social Fresh, the social media education company. Jason is a social media consultant, a social media speaker and industry analyst. He consults with corporations and agencies on social media strategy, building community, and influencer...

  • Interesting argument, but a couple of interesting facts. First, as of this writing, Oreo has 39,746 followers. For a $4M spend, that came at a cost of $100.64 per follower. Second, Oreo is following 0 (zero) people. It is pretty well known that in the social media space, you can’t just talk AT people, but actually be involved IN a discussion. Having zero followers behind a $4M campaign seems a HUGE miss.

    So while an interesting campaign, they seemed to have really missed the mark from an ROI perspective and from an engagement perspective. And that’s a shame, because they really invested a lot. For $40k/yr, a person could manage the Intagram account for an entire year! (and that would only have been 1% more than they spent anyways – before production cost of the ad).

    By the way, filling wins every time. Not even a question.

  • The person who came up with the idea of Oreo’s “you can still dunk in the dark” and came up with it so quickly and without hesitation deserves a medal. No, really, he does. Something as successful as that, having the reach and impact as that is not something that one could see every day.

  • You make interesting points, Brett, but let me raise a few doubts:

    You measure Oreo’s success at $100.64 per follower, but how would you measure what other brands did? Here’s the volume of tweets shared on hashtags promoted on the campaigns, to give you an idea of how Oreo fared compared to others:

    Oreo isn’t going to stop there, as Jason pointed out, they seem to have thought long term here and they’re about to re-air the ad later. Yesterday, they had 35k followers, today they passed 50k, who knows where they’ll grow. We’re now at a cost of acqusition of $80 per follower. Who knows if and when they’re going to plateau?

    I think that aside from appearing nicer to your audience, following people is far from being necessary. Interactions shouldn’t be sparked by the brand but by its fans, and the brands should reply to them. So, yes, actively tracking and monitor social media activity is important, obviously, but following accounts isn’t the way to go. Rather, setting up notifications and tracking mentions/hashtags is the efficient way to go.

    A very interesting article for a fascinating subject!

  • Hi, Thank you for sharing such useful and informative post!!!!

  • It also doesn’t take into account the network effect which is always a challenge because no one can effectively capture that yet.