Marketers Tackle Super Bowl Blackout In PR Score

The first half of Super Bowl 2013 was a yawn, at least for football fans. For brand-watchers, the commercials were respectable, and a few even stood out. (My favorite was Amy Poehler at Best Buy.)

But the game changer on Sunday was the unprecedented 34-minute power failure that left the players frustrated, the announcers in the dark (and mostly silent), and the network in apology mode.

Like all crisis situations, the Blackout Bowl was a PR opportunity for brands nimble enough to call some new plays and run with it. A few smart marketing cookies jumped on the moment and scored points for social media savvy. Within minutes, Oreo, which had already aired a fun “Cookie or Crème” spot, cooked up an ad featuring a dimly lit Oreo with the tagline, “You can still dunk in the dark.” It was tweeted with the post, “Power out? No problem” and RT’d over 15,000 times. Sweet.

My favorite newsjacking was the most unexpected. PBS, which happened to be in the midst of a Downton Abbey fan chat on Twitter when the Superdome went dark, also seized the chance to join the conversation. Its post, which politely suggested “alternate programming” to the Unplugged Bowl, instantly went viral.

But the biggest off-the-field winner might be Twitter itself. According to Mashable, it was mentioned in half of the Super Bowl ads.

Well played.