Blizzard of the Century or Not, Brands Are Ready

As social media becomes more and more critical to how consumers get information, brands are becoming mavericks in their real-time marketing.

When the power outage delayed Super Bowl XLVII, Oreo was quick to act with their savvy tweet, “You can still dunk in the dark.” According to Ad Age, the post was retweeted more than 10,000 times in one hour. It’s safe to say that Oreo brilliantly stole the night.

Brands like Oreo understand the importance of seizing the opportunity when the appropriate opportunity presents itself, and they did so again during the #Blizzardof2015. The storm may not have been quite the blizzard that some were predicting, but brands like DiGiorno, Red Vines, BuzzFeed and Aeropostale wasted no time in jumping on the Juno snow wagon.


Large shared events, like Juno, offer brands the opportunity to be relevant and relatable to their audiences, offering a real-time and even local-feeling perspective, but there’s a risk.

As Shankar Gupta, VP of strategy at 360i, told Adweek: “If a brand has some real role to play for consumers in a blizzard, then by all means, go for it. But if not, brands just talking about the weather is pretty dull—even duller than humans talking about the weather.”

Without putting some actual thought into whether a brand will break through the clutter of noise and fear-mongering, especially during a storm, brands risk appearing opportunistic and exploitative. Natural disasters are just that, disasters. Brands have to be extra careful when trying to engage audiences in such situations.

Jill Sherman, a VP/General Director of social and content strategy at DigitasLBi Boston suggests sticking to light hearted conversations, like “stay-warm ideas.”

So what’s the advice for brands that just can’t help themselves when it comes to adding unwanted insight to the current conversation? Duct-tape your social media manager’s hands together to avoid controversy? (You can take that up with HR.)

Perhaps it’s more important to remind them to be tasteful and smart. Blizzard or not, brands have to be wary of speaking out just for the sake of speaking out. If not done right, posts and tweets can easily be overlooked as media jargon, or worse, can offend and create a backlash.

But if a brand can select which moment is best to strike, and do so in an honest, natural, and relevant way, then it’s possible to recreate a golden Oreo-at-the-Super Bowl moment. So the next time your social team is in that war room preparing for battle during the next Juno or maybe Super Bowl XLIX, remind them of relevancy, appropriateness, and the social rule of thumb, “Think before you post.”