A slam dunk at FT Digital Media 2013


A power-cut and a small unassuming black and white chocolate biscuit has created an appetite from brands to rethink their approach to social media and to attempt jump onto the ‘strategic improvisation’ bandwagon. All brands are now thinking about how they can have an instantaneous social hit like Oreo produced at the Super Bowl.

For this reason, having a star appearance of B. Bonin Bough, Vice President of Global Media and Consumer Engagement at Mondelēz International at the FT Digital Media conference to share the behind the scenes story was reason enough for any social media specialist to attend. The event attracted high level speakers such as Jeff Bewkes, Chairman of the Board and CEO, Time Warner, Dr. Thomas Rabe, Chairman and CEO, Bertelsmann and Sir Martin Sorrell, Group Chief Executive, WPP and my expectation was a well thought out, varied and generally free of marketing BS conference – I wasn’t disappointed.

A recurrent theme at social media conferences recently has been the importance of brand’s social media content feeling “native” to whichever social platform it is on. As Hearsay Social’s Clara Shih says, “the future of advertising won’t feel like advertising”. So, it was fascinating to hear first hand the story behind what Fast Company call the “tweet that was heard around the world”.

Bough recalls that the reason the Dunk in the Dark (DITD) tweet ever happened came from a desire in Mondelez to be Best in Class in social, this is a phrase we hear a lot a We Are Social. We’re regularly briefed to deliver this but few brands have the DNA, resource or the patience to get there.

The revealing thing about Bough’s presentation was that to a lot of people DITD would appear to be an instantaneous success. The reality was that DITD was the result of a long line experiments, or indeed twists.

Bough explained that from the outside Oreo’s Daily Twist was a truly social brand churning out quality social content but behind the scenes it was an experiment in not only coming up with reactive creative content but also an experiment in how to get work signed off fast. Bough described the daily twist as an exercise in “building muscle memory” in its brand managers which would allow them to produce top quality content quickly.

The Oreo team had set up a war room at the Super Bowl preparing themselves to produce  opportunist content. DITD wasn’t the first reactive post and there were other reactive tweets such as this one which didn’t have the same impact…

But then the lights went out and the rest is social media history.

Since DITD, Bough has pushed ‘strategic improvisation’ one step forward. The music channel Fuse, Trident and Twitter have teamed up for a revolutionary approach to TV programming with “Trending 10”.

The show is built around real-time Twitter conversation spikes and 10 nightly stories will be compiled from Fuse’s Heat Tracker, a proprietary tool built off Twitter’s API that monitors the most-talked about music discussions of the day at Fuse.tv/T10. Interestingly the approach is to look for spikes in conversation – as opposed to the largest amount of conversation.

Bonin knows he has to make this work “If I lose reach, I lose sales” and that Oreo’s successful work in social delivers 2-3x the effectiveness of TV spot.

If brands want to win at ‘strategic improvisation’ they need to have the set up and structure to deliver this. If its going to feel native, be shareable and be turned round quick you’d best be prepared to take time to get it right.