When a blackout brought the Super Bowl to a grinding halt this February, Oreo became one of the most celebrated brands in a pricey, advertising-packed evening, all thanks to a tweet.
The cookie brand was able to put together an image encouraging fans to "dunk in the dark," and send it out on Twitter within minutes – attracting kudos for the kind of real-time response that marketers need to stay relevant in a social media age.
The century-old brand got its digital cachet that night thanks to three years of work with New York-based agency 360i, on a strategy to help Oreo connect with younger consumers. Now, the Dentsu Inc.-owned agency, known for creating campaigns based on real-time data that it tracks in the digital world, is coming to Canada.
On Thursday, 360i is expected to announce its Canadian expansion in conjunction with DentsuBos, the Toronto- and Montreal-based agency that was acquired by Dentsu last June. A team of six 360i employees will work out of the DentsuBos offices helping 360i clients expand their work to Canada and also helping DentsuBos clients do more work in digital and social media. The 360i name will also be added to the agency doors.
It is the second market in 360i's international expansion, which began with the opening of an office in London this January. That team has since expanded from five to 18 people.
"In Canada, we're a bit behind in terms of sophistication on data," DentsuBos president Claude Carrier said in an interview Wednesday. "It may be a matter of size, and what it costs to fully integrate that. More and more, what we see with our clients here is a desire to take a step forward and understand how to use communications in more effective ways. One of the things we really value in the 360i brand is how they've built their expertise on data and analytics."
Sending out the tweet may seem flippant, but Oreo's win in February took serious work. The agency set up a "war room" for its client that night, allowing them to monitor social media analytics together, see where the conversation was, and react with lightning speed. Because clients still have to be cautious about messaging on social media, that meant having the legal team pre-approve guidelines for their Twitter activity. The fast-paced digital environment means that brands need to be highly organized but also decisive, in order to succeed.
Another example of 360i's work is last fall's Bacon Barter, a campaign for Oscar Mayer's new bacon product, that sent a man from New York to Los Angeles with only a refrigerated truck full of bacon to barter for everything he needed, including food and lodgings. The campaign came out of the agency's research that showed people online were discussing bacon regularly, but rarely the companies that sell it.
The agency promoted the stunt on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. It also earned 336 million media impressions, or views of news stories on the campaign. According to the agency, this translated to a 41 per cent increase in positive sentiment for the brand. And the trip was a success, with 2,168 bricks of bacon exchanged for various goods and services from the eastern seaboard to the California coast.
"A lot of clients think of digital as something you see on a PC," said 360i chief executive officer Bryan Wiener. "Bacon Barter was really an experiential campaign, but it's leveraging the power of digital – with the scale that would be impossible without it – both to create the experience and also promote the experience. Oscar Mayer didn't say, 'Give me an idea that fits in a screen.' "
In the months leading up to its Canadian launch, 360i brought client work from the U.S. and is already working on campaigns here for Coca-Cola and Scotts Miracle-Gro. DentsuBos has also been meeting with clients to discuss its new digital capabilities, and is already working on a building a social media presence for Lexus here.
"They had absolutely no social media presence, and we sat down with the [360i] folks in New York to have a discussion about what it meant, what it could do for the brand, what's the tone ... out of that, it was quite immediate, that they said 'We need to do this,'" Mr. Carrier said. "There's way more that we're planning."
"Ultimately an agency, in this highly disruptive changing market, has to figure out how they're going to serve and come up with programs that are going to connect brands with consumers," Mr. Wiener said.