AMC vs. Oreo: The genesis of ‘NOT COOL, COOKIE’

The digital marketing manager for AMC Theatres explains how ‘one of the best Twitter replies ever’—and a high-profile online exchange with Oreo—came about.

As someone who works on the Web and in social media, I’m always looking around at the industry, finding great ideas and best practices, particularly when they pertain to brands. I work for a brand. A pretty big one. And working for a brand, especially on social media, requires a certain finesse. You have to encapsulate the voice of the brand, and yet it needs to feel appropriate for the channel that you’re on.

One brand that is just way beyond everyone else in terms of engagement and knowing its audience is Oreo. Not only are these cookies beloved and known throughout the world, they have a passionate audience to the tune of over 27 million “likes” on Facebook. Part of the reason that the brand’s got such great engagement is its Daily Twist campaign, such as the offering below that it shared on Pride Day:

One of the great things about having something as identifiable as a black-and-white cookie is that it can be modified to be so many different things, including items that are movie-related:

I’m a big fan of Oreo and what it’s doing. Then, on Sept. 25, it tweeted:

Now, my company has a “No Outside Food and Beverage” policy (as do most theatres, concert venues, and sporting arenas). Oreo knows that because they even used the #slicksnacker hashtag to indicate that outside Oreos are contraband in a theatre. So I decided to have a little fun.

Eight minutes

Eight minutes was all it took for us to craft a three-word response. No legal departments. No approvals. Our social media team has such a great amount of trust from our leadership that we can speak off the cuff through our brand voice and know that we have their support. It helps when we’re clever, too.

Shortly after we sent the tweet out, I left the office for the afternoon for a Kansas City tech conference. Now, I’ve got AMC’s Twitter account connected to my phone. I kept up with the feed during the conference and watched as our terrific followers began retweeting and retweeting and retweeting.

By the end of the night, the tweet had reached more than 200 retweets, which translates to a whole lot of reach in the world of Twitter. I was pretty proud of what I had done. I shared it on Facebook and went to bed thinking that was the end of it.

Oh, how wrong I was

Sometime between the time I woke up and the time I got to work, it had exploded. It made the front page of AdWeek, thanks to the AdWeek blog post, “Oreo gets dunked by one of the best Twitter replies ever,” and my Twitter feed began getting inundated with congratulations and kudos. The number of retweets was more than 500 and climbing rapidly, and Oreo had even responded.

Not a #humblebrag, but a point

I promise this post isn’t meant to be one giant #humblebrag. I have a point to all this. The truth is that an interaction like this is why I believe so fervently in the power of social media professionals within brands. With the proper structure and governance (and a boatload of trust from your superiors), stuff like this can happen.

Trust is important

I cannot emphasize this enough. As the AdWeek story circulated around the office, I wanted to make one thing clear to my superiors: Successes like this are not purely the result of being clever. Being given the latitude to react and respond is critical for a social media group within a brand.

Trust matters. The trust that we have been given is an invaluable asset in instances like this. And I will continue to live up to that trust—why wouldn’t I? I am a representative of the brand (a brand that I am proud of), so why would I do anything that would harm the brand?

That ownership in what we do better equips me and my colleagues to do amazing things. It helps if you have a brand whose voice is defined as “fun and engaging.”

Now what?

The story continued through the day. More and more retweets of our “NOT COOL, COOKIE” post (it’s now more than 1,000) and too many congratulations from people around the office. Still, we saw one more opportunity to engage with Oreo’s response.

What we came back with was fun, I think. (Big hat tip to Justin, my colleague and AMC’s social media manager, who had the idea.)

Yes. Those are Oreos on my eyes.

If there’s anything to learn from my story, it’s this: If you are a brand representative in social spaces, be sure that you understand your brand voice. Fight for an amount of autonomy where it makes sense so you can be agile and respond not just to customer service-related questions, but to the pop-culture zeitgeist as well.

Shane Adams is the digital marketing manager for AMC Theatres. A version of this article first appeared on his blog, Shanelife.com.

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