Agency of the Year 2014

360i Is Selected as the 2013 Digital Agency of the Year

Transitioning from search to social has paid off handsomely

Photo: Jeremy Goldberg

Just when you thought you’d heard everything about how 360i and Oreo made social marketing history with their Super Bowl “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark” tweet, there’s more to the story. In the mere 11 minutes it took for the brand team to concoct a pitch-perfect (and legally approved) message, the agency and client considered some eight or nine other ideas before settling on its winner.

That’s a stellar example of how nimble social media marketing has become, and how 360i put its stamp on 2013 more than any other digital agency. The New York firm and Oreo had spent the previous 18 months honing their Twitter chops, experience that allowed them to instinctively know that “Dunk in the Dark” would do well—though they had no clue it would garner more than 32,000 social media likes and shares in just the first hour before snowballing into 525 million impressions in the following days. Those massive engagement numbers—as well as the stunt’s new status as a marketing milestone—chalked up two Cannes Lions awards for the Oreo team.

Sarah Hofstetter, U.S. CEO for Dentsu-owned 360i, explains that the triumphant Super Bowl tweet represented “a muscle memory that accumulated over multiple years of repetition. You have to do your homework first.”

Oreo hunkered down in 360i’s office that Super Bowl night, monitoring its responses to the big game being ingeniously orchestrated by the agency. “It was a thrilling moment, watching the community react,” recalls Janda Lukin, the brand’s director for Mondelez International. “It brought people together in a social way that we feel is what the brand is about.”

The signature move underscored a social-media-heavy partnership between the companies, Lukin says, that began to truly blossom with their late-2012 “Daily Twist” series, which celebrated Oreo’s 100th birthday with a cool, new digital image every day for 100 days. This appeal sparked huge buzz by jumping on topical subjects like Gay Pride Month, Shark Week and NASA’s Mars Rover landing. The effort accrued four Cannes Lions of its own last June. “We are trying to show people this is a brand of the 21st century,” Lukin explains. “360i has been key to reshaping and contemporizing our brand. They have brought Oreo’s voice to life with the millennial consumer group.”

A torrent of real-time copycatting by other brands and agencies followed. “The industry started focusing on minute-by-minute marketing,” says Bryan Wiener, 360i’s global CEO.

Hofstetter adds that the shop “defined a new paradigm for the industry.” And even competitors in the marketing realm grudgingly agree the agency’s social plays changed the game. Mark Pinsent, Metia’s social and content lead, describes the Oreo work as showing “genuine creativity in real time and astounding agility in production.”

Adds OneSpot CEO Steve Sachs: “Oreo’s example is now one of everyone’s tricks of the trade. … More brands will try in 2014. Plenty will fail [because] real time is risky, but we’ll be applauding more that succeed.”

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