Laying the groundwork for a viral sensation

Last year, Tamara and I got to chat with Leo Morejon on the Genuine Humans podcast. It was a fascinating conversation, and especially interesting to hear about the mechanics of that famous Super Bowl Oreo Blackout tweet.

What stood out was how much work went into getting to the tweet.

At the time, the marketing community raved about what a fantastic example of real-time marketing the tweet was. But there wasn’t really much discussion about the processes and procedures that got Oreo’s agency, 360i, there.

While the nitty gritty of content strategies, plans and spreadsheets aren’t at all sexy, the truth is viral hits like the Oreo Super Bowl Blackout tweet rarely come out of nowhere.

Leo told us about the elaborate workflows and the 200-page brand playbook he created for Oreo’s international operations. 

He told us about how, back in 2010, he presented the idea for the tweet and then worked with his team to put the processes in place so that they were ready to publish it if the right moment presented itself.

So, while the Oreo tweet is a great example of creativity, it’s also about planned spontaneity.

And that requires planning. Compelling creative content needs:

  1. An evolving content strategy – these need to be living documents, especially these days when social platforms are in flux. To create the most effective content, brands need to have the agility to change course quickly while sticking to their core messages and style.
  2. A trusted team that works well together – creating effective creative content requires discord – or at least the willingness to challenge each other and adapt their ideas. It needs a team of people who have permission to challenge the accepted way of thinking and who won’t be dismissed.
  3. Great ideas – individuals and teams can come up with brilliant ideas, but they aren’t always going to be practical ones. 
  4. For the brand to have an organised system of content creation and promotion – Leo mentioned not being able to “do good carpentry” if we don’t know “where all our tools are” and what state they’re in. 
  5. Build the story of the brand. As Leo points out on his website, some other brands beat Oreo to the punch during the blackout and posted tweets of their own. Oreo’s is the one that caught the most attention – winning numerous awards in the process. A lot of this was due to Oreo’s 100+ year brand history and people’s strong associations with the brand as part of their everyday lives. 

Moments of connection like the Oreo tweet aren’t just governed by luck. 

They’re the result of consistent work behind the scenes – work on building brand reputation over months, years and even decades. They’re the result of careful planning and strategising and effective collaboration between teams.

Creativity may be governed by inspiration, but for that creative idea to be effective, it needs to be supported by a foundation of strategy, processes and procedures.

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