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Al on the Power of the Oreo

Did this sell more cookies?

We still hear from our former co-worker and friend Al Peterson, and he usually has something to say to make us smile, or think, or both.

To wit:

A lot has been made since the Super Bowl of the turn-on-a-dime Twitter advertising strategy employed by Oreo; that you can still “dunk in the dark.” TV commentators have been tripping over themselves to report both what an innovative move this was for the Oreo people, as well as the number of Tweets that traveled across the universe to spread the message.

Swell. Now the key question: Did this sell more cookies?

So far, all it has proven is that a guy with Photoshop and a brisk Web connection can be faster than the “immediacy of radio” (as we all have enthusiastically promoted over the decades), but it’s one more ad message that could well have been ignored in the clutter that is pumped through the pipeline every day. One more Olde Brooklyn Lantern, Curly-Hose or vitamin message that went unviewed. For that matter, how many Twitter followers were not even part of that group and never saw the message? Really, other than speed, what was it that made it so special?

Not everyone stayed up to watch it, but Craig Ferguson’s Super Bowl TV show airing only a short while later on the same night opened with a blackout gag, and they had to throw that together at the last minute, every bit as fast as the Oreo Tweet. The success of political commercials likewise depends on lightning-fast production and placement. And years ago, “South Park” proved it could be done in a complicated animated program when they spoofed the Elian Gonzales raid the same week it occurred in real life. It’s not magic, people.

I don’t want to sound like some gramophone-crankin’, DeSoto-drivin’ curmudgeon from an earlier era, but to my way of thinking, the Oreo Blackout Tweet was buzzworthy yes, but an advertising revolution in the making? I’m not convinced. Not until the Oreo people say their sales went through the roof following that Tweet. Worst-case, now that the method is known, it may mean an exponential jump and increased flow in the bombardment of rapidly-assembled advertising over phones and social media.

At least on radio, we know when to get back to the music.