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Marketing at the speed of real time

By Kelsey Caulkins, media planner

When you say to someone, “Oreo and Super Bowl Blackout,” very few people will be confused. Same with “Arby’s and Pharrell’s Grammys hat.” Over the past year, real-time marketing (RTM) has really picked up speed, resulting in both great executions and others that fell flat. If they do it right, brands can position themselves as funny, clever, and on the cutting edge, just by using social media to post timely and relevant content.

The Pharrell example is on the top of the list in terms of virility; however there have been many smart executions that have not gone unnoticed.  When the popular series Breaking Bad used “A trip to Belize” as a euphemism for murder, The Belize Tourism Board decided to respond in the best way possible. Showcasing Belize’s laid back vibe and sense of humor, the Board posted a letter written to the Breaking Bad cast offering them each a free trip to Belize once they were done filming.

Denny’s had a smart idea to bypass the obvious live-tweeting event, the 2014 Golden Globes, and instead engaged in a funny commentary tied to the Season 3 premier of the HBO series Girls. For a brand that has been around for a while, and is not necessarily on the cutting edge of pop culture, the humorous tone and relevancy to the show’s youthful audience were perfectly well done and a great way to stand out.

There are many reasons why RTM makes a large impact. During major events or premiers, most people not only watch them live but are also on a second screen engaging with social media. A survey done last year asking about Super Bowl viewing habits showed that 36% planned on using a second screen during the game and 52% said they would be using social media*. That opens up a huge platform for brands to speak to consumers. With the Super Bowl just around the corner, I’ve laid out a few key points that are necessary for success when endeavoring into RTM.

1.   Although the tweets feel spontaneous, preparation is key – Oreo had a full social team on standby including copywriters, a strategist, and artists so they could react to any situation in under 10 minutes. Also in the room were executives from Oreo, ready to give approval in a moment’s notice.** Being fully prepped is crucial when the goal is to make the maximum impact.

2.   A brave brand team, willing to take risks – The Oreo clients were in the room and ready to make fast decisions. Being present is important, but even more so is the willingness to make bold decisions and take risks. For more conservative brands that don’t have the flexibility to put content out on the fly, real-time marketing is a challenge.

3.   Join the conversation, don’t try to start it – The reason people get excited when brands post about timely events is because they are becoming a participant in the conversation and are therefore viewed as clever and relatable. When brands try and start the conversation, it feels forced. On that note, if a brand is trying too hard to mold into something buzz-worthy, it also feels contrived and users pick up on that. The perfect combination is when a brand’s identity fits naturally and they respond to the conversation as soon as it starts to pick up speed.

I have no doubt that RTM will once again emerge during the upcoming Super Bowl. Who will be the standouts? Among the list of known game advertisers is Axe, who already released the 60-second version of their spot depicting a series of soldiers and tyrants turning toward love. Axe has always been a brand that is willing to push the limit and take risks, so it would not surprise me if they were active on social media during the game and had some tricks up their sleeve.

Another brand I’m keeping my eye on is E-trade. This will be the first year since 2007 they have NOT had an ad in the Super Bowl. Famous for their spots featuring the financially savvy talking baby, they are a brand that uses humor to their advantage. It’s very possible that RTM will be used with the absence of paid media.

Beyond just the Super Bowl, I think we will continue to see RTM being utilized in a variety of ways. Brands that want to make an impact with consumers in this ever-cluttered social space will turn to live tweets and posts as a way to stay current and keep the dialogue going. If you set yourself up for success (and let’s be honest–get lucky) it has the potential for high gain, without burning a hole in your marketing budget.

*http://mashable.com/2013/01/28/super-bowl-survey-second-screen-big-game/

**http://www.wired.com/underwire/2013/02/oreo-twitter-super-bowl/

**http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelysanders/how-oreo-got-that-twitter-ad-up-so-fast

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