If you've been paying attention to today's prominent marketing tactics, you may have noticed some of the entertaining headlines following the Oscars and Super Bowl this year: 17 (mostly failed) Brand Tweets From The Oscars, ‘Real-Time Marketing: Only the Dumb Survive’, and ‘Go home, Real Time Marketing. You’re Drunk’.
Once again, for better or for worse, real time marketing (RTM) was at the center of the marketing world’s reportage on the highs and lows of commercial output during these annual brand publicity contests. Is real time marketing just a headline-grabbing gimmick, or is there more to it than witty observations and tweet-worthy stunts? And what is the future for RTM?
Sure, there are great examples of tweets executed well in real-time. Like NASA, for example, and their clever and fully on-brand tweets during the Oscars. With the hashtag #RealGravity, the space organization promoted themselves using real facts relating to gravity—a move that was obviously on-topic since the movie "Gravity" was awarded a several Oscars. Here is one of the most popular tweets:
Recently, Digiday reported on a clever use of real time marketing from Citi Bike NYC, with a little help from JCrew. When Paull Young, the director of digital media at charity: water, tweeted that he had fallen off his Citi Bike and ruined his pants on the way to a meeting, @CitibikeNYC tweeted this:
What happened next pleasantly surprised Paull:
Paull left his meeting to find this gift card waiting for him, courtesy of Citi Bike and JCrew, so he could pick up a clean pair on the way home.
So what is it about this story that makes us sit up and take notice? It’s because brands are taking the best features from RTM and implementing them in their daily conversations with their followers. Brands are listening—and responding—in real time with original ideas and great customer service.
Lee Nadler, marketing communications manager at MINI USA explained his real time marketing road map in a recent interview with Media Bistro. To Nadler, planning is just as important as reaction to real-time events: the brand has a very strong character and the marketing team keeps this upmost in their minds when it comes to their marketing message. Everything must reflect the "irreverent and risqué, but not offensive" brand personality.
Nadler and his team work in advance, choosing which upcoming events align with their brand’s core message. You don’t have to react to everything and anything. Even reacting can be planned in advance: Nadler has guidelines and approvals agreed to with legal, as well as budgets for those times they need to run with something. This allows them to be seen to be acting in real time, but the work is all in the preparation. MINI also work with their partners to prepare for real-time conversations and volleys that keep their brands fresh and relevant.
Oreo Cookies made news this Super Bowl for restricting themselves to one Tweet:
Why did the star of last year’s Super Bowl social media commentary back out this year? Is it because they have washed their hands of RTM?
Not at all; Oreo has taken all the planning, originality, responsiveness, and, in short, all the brilliance that made them stand out at the Super Bowl and integrated it into their everyday marketing. One look at their Twitter feed will wow you with their visual take on the day’s events or just random images and videos that could form a full-scale print or TV advertising campaign for most regular brands. Oreo have made RTM an every-day event: they didn’t need to join in the Super Bowl scramble this year.
This begs the question: is Real Time Marketing even note-worthy anymore? Now that it’s moved beyond a gimmick reserved for sporting events and the Oscars, maybe soon it’ll be considered simply marketing.
"Social media marketing" is another one of those terms that caused endless debate when brands realized the potential of Facebook and Twitter to drive sales, and now we don’t even need to say the "social media" bit anymore—digital and social strategy is naturally built into the marketing mix.
Granted, not all brands have moved beyond the attention-grabbing stunts, but RTM is moving into the smart brands’ everyday marketing strategies, just like social media marketing did not long ago.