Did Charities Sleep Through The Great Super Bowl Blackout?

Last night the power went out at the Super Bowl for 33 minutes and 55 seconds. And brands had a field day using Twitter to add humor and garner brand recognition. CNET reports that during the blackout, Twitter activity was around 231,500 tweets per minute!

Tamsen Webster of Allen & Gerritsen and Georgy Cohen of Crosstown Digital did an amazing job of finding and retweeting the best. Some that stick out for me were:

  • Oreo's tweet "Power out? No problem" tweet with the image attached that said "You can dunk in the dark" was brilliant. (AdAge reports that one tweet was retweeted 10,000 times in just one hour!)
  • Audi's tweet about sending LEDs was tied directly to its brand. (And a swipe at their competitor, Mercedes Benz, who's name was on the Super Dome!)
  • And the Major League Baseball tweet hijacked the world's most watched sporting event, American football, to remind everyone that baseball spring training starts in 8 days!

Someone even took the initiative to start a new Twitter account @SuperBowlLights and gain thousands of followers and retweets in that half an hour.

Where were the nonprofits?!

The only nonprofit tweets I saw were from Love146 and PBS. Both responded with humor.


Rob Morris, president and co-founder of Love146 made a humorous Pink Panther reference in a tweet. This was a good use of Twitter since it's almost always great for nonprofit leaders to show they have a sense of humor. The old axiom is true: people give to people. So proving you're a person with personality is a vital step in increasing donor loyalty.

Here's his tweet:

PBS' tweet took personality to a whole new level. Anyone that has done social media for an organization knows that it's tough to find the organization's "voice," let alone find one that is a bit quirky.


PBS nailed it in this tweet:
Image of PBS' tweet proving PBS was a nonprofit that didn't sleep through the Great Super Bowl Blackout

What did your nonprofit do?

Companies reportedly spent around $4 million per 30-second spot. But with the nimble use of Twitter alone, companies like Audi and Oreo are getting media attention today for free. In an age of a 24/7 news cycle, agile nonprofits have an unprecedented opportunity to get media attention. But it'll take timing and usually humor.

Did your nonprofit have some fun tweets? Tell us about it in the comments?

About Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman is the CEO of The Concord Leadership Group, the author of Ask Without Fear! and director of The Nonprofit Academy. A coach to leaders around the world, Marc's expertise and enthusiasm engages audiences and has caught the attention of media organizations as diverse as Al Jazeera and Fox News. Marc’s experience also includes pastoring a Vineyard church, managing a gubernatorial campaign, and teaching internet marketing and fundraising at colleges and universities. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family! You can connect with him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook.
To get his free ebook on 21 ways to get board members engaged with fundraising, go to https://fundraisingcoach.com/21-ways/


  1. Check out the behind-the-scenes description of the Oreo's team that allowed them to so quickly create a response, have it officially approved, and get it out in minutes:

  2. There were some nonprofits who did posts to Twitter including Global Giving, PBS and FeedingAmerica - a blog post summarizing them can be found here:


    Also the OneCampaign did a really good one about the fact 1 billion people in Africa are without power right now that hit home with me.

    ONE (@ONECampaign):
    half a billion people in Africa NEVER have power. Learn more at http://www.one.org/us/2012/11/13/what-makes-you-angry/ ? #superbowl

    Granted, these nonprofit ones didn't go as viral as the Oreo one but since Oreos had a social media team in place working the social media lines to help them follow up on their Instagram-related ad I think it's almost cheating. That said, having everyone in place and being able to turn it around so quickly - they defintely showed the importance of getting all of your ducks in a row. Nonprofits should follow suit.

    • Thanks Dave! That One campaign sounds compelling.

      Not sure if it's "cheating." They spent millions on the ad that aired!

      But I do think any number of nonprofit professionals were watching the game with smartphones nearby...Just saying.

  3. Just saw a report on Twitter during the Super Bowl power blackout that included a tweet from "One", an organization reminding people that a billion people in Africa never have power. You're right, though - this is a relatively new area that nonprofits more generally need to exploit.

    • Hi Michael!

      I did see that Zan posted that tweet too. And one from Feed America. I'm glad they tried. But as I told my Fundraising Kick subscribers today: humor is a lubricant for spreading great ideas.

      The tweets I saw were a bit heavy-handed. But better than nothing!

  4. Our nonprofit based in New Orleans... Used the blackout to highlight our Light of Hope project that we are launching on April 5th. LightofHopegala.com for more information.

What would you add?