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Hughes blog post: Offspring, Oreos and Opportunity: the power of acting in the moment

13 August 2013    

I have a confession to make. I have spent the last week mourning the passing of a fictional television character.

Unless you’ve avoided mass and social media for the last week, you’d probably be aware that a character called Patrick Reid died on Channel 10’s hit Australian drama Offspring on Wednesday night and as a result, there’s been an outpouring of grief from the show’s legion of predominately female fans.

As fans around Australia took to social media and lost their minds shared their thoughts on Patrick’s untimely death, several clever, quick thinking businesses took the opportunity to capitalise on the social media storm, posting tongue-in-cheek references to the Offspring story line. My personal favourite is this one from the Nyngan Police which was shared on their Facebook page:

To date the post has been liked by 3,687 people on Facebook, shared 8,817 times and received 665 comments. It has also received widespread national media coverage across traditional and social mediums. Not bad for a police force in a small rural New South Wales town with a population of less than 2,500!

This post helps add to the personability of the Nyngan Police brand. It demonstrates that while their work is serious, they do have a sense of humour, and importantly, they are taking the opportunity to engage with relevant social media conversation.

Speaking of the post to, Nyngan Police’s Sergeant Tony Wood said: "We had a couple of people mention [Patrick's death] to us and that started a discussion and we thought it would be a lighthearted post. "We find having a bit of humour engages the community and gets people's attention and that gives us a bigger audience when we put up other (serious) posts," Sergeant Wood said.

Meanwhile, earlier this year during the Superbowl – an event which sees advertisers spend millions on primetime television spots – one non-traditional style of messaging stole the show.

A power outage ninety minutes in to the second half saw the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers match delayed by 34 minutes. As fans around the world contemplated the cause of the outage, users took to social media to vent speculate when this tweet came just minutes in to the outage:

Another case of perfect timing – this single tweet from Oreo Cookies had already received 12,000 retweets before the lights came back on. The agency behind the tweet, 360i, had a team set up in their office ready to connect with fans through a clever, viral style campaign. When the power went out, they saw an opportunity for Oreo to become the centre of Superbowl social media conversation, and they ran with it.

Acting in the moment proved to be successful for Oreo and the team behind the tweet – they won two Cannes Lions Awards (the ultimate awards for the creative industry) for their efforts. That’s right – a tweet won not one, but two Cannes Lions. In a fast-paced digital world, quick and clever thinking has the ‘power’ to steal the show.

- Natalie Ciccocioppo