Gather round the electronic camp fire, people. It’s time for the Super Bowl, perhaps the last TV network program that can attract a huge and varied audience amid an atomized media universe.
At least 100 million people will tune into the Super Bowl. No doubt brand managers will pay close attention to the commercials. Advertisers dropped roughly $5 million for a 30-second spot during the Feb. 7 game pitting the Denver Broncos against the Carolina Panthers (hat tip to Bloomberg Businessweek), and the corporate gods are going to want to see some returns on those expenditures.
However, both media buyers and those companies sitting on the sidelines will watch the big game for any potential newsjacking opportunities. Newsjacking, of course, is the ability to inject your brand or organization into breaking news.
Depending on how the game unfolds, what surprises lurk within the gridiron and whether Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton acts like an old ham—as is his want—the game could be a newsjacking vehicle.
This weekend the PR and marketing team at Oreo will celebrate the third anniversary of what arguably is one of the greatest displays of newsjacking ever.
When the lights at the New Orleans Superdome went out during the 2013 Super Bowl, it took just a few seconds for people to start tweeting #BlackoutBowl.
It seemingly took just a few more seconds after that for Oreo to post a real-time ad on Twitter, with a picture of an Oreo cookie sitting in a darkened area, along with the tagline, “You can still dunk in the dark.”
PR and marketing guru David Meerman Scott said at the time on his blog, “This newsjack from Oreo succeeds because it was fast, it’s witty and fun, it’s non-controversial, and it ties back to the brand and its messages.”
He added, “Oreo spent many millions of dollars running television ads during the Super Bowl. But on a cost per view basis, newsjacking generated a much, much bigger ROI.”
So if you sniff a newsjacking opportunity—Super Bowl or not—here a few tips to keep in mind.
Ø Have a contingency plan. Take some time to develop a communications strategy tied to a potential newsjacking opportunity. Who will steer the effort? What are the responsibilities of PR, marketing, digital and social media executives? What are the possible “creatives” behind the message to develop ahead of time
Ø Make sure the message is relevant. Considering the potentially enormous return on relatively low cost, it’s easy to be seduced into thinking your brand has to jump on the next newsjacking wagon. But don’t do it just for the sake of doing so. Be sure there is a legitimate connection between the event and your brand message. If it seems to be a stretch, that’s how it will come off to your audience.
Ø Be careful before you hit send and do your homework. With newsjacking, speed is of the essence. But speed can kill, as well. Just ask the folks at DiGiorno Pizza. Two years ago the brand tried to leverage the hashtags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft, which emerged on Twitter after a video release showing then-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancée in a casino elevator. DiGiorno’s community manager posted this entry into the conversation: #WhyIStayed You Had Pizza. Ouch. The tweet was pulled immediately but for a brief window the company was slammed for being insensitive to domestic violence. Newsjacking both giveth and taketh away.