How brands can plan for real-time moments


There’s no doubt that real-time marketing can work extremely well when brilliantly executed and done at the right time. Look at Oreo or Lynx for great examples.

At the moment though it seems as though there seems to be a consensus that unless your brand or agency has a 24-7 social newsroom staffed by at least 40 people scouring the web, then you’re lagging way behind. I disagree. All it takes is a keen eye, a sense of restraint and where possible, a little forward planning.

We recently ran a campaign with mobile phone network @ThreeUK, aimed at celebrating the fact that it is a network built for the internet (it was the first with 3G – hence the name). We wanted to give a point of view on people’s internet usage, focusing on the silly content that they share every day. More specifically, on how important this stuff is in building and solidifying relationships. We wanted to create something that people would see and say, “I like this and I think you’ll like it too.”

Then this little guy came along.

In addition to the Dance Pony Dance film we created the Pony Mixer, a YouTube gadget that allowed people to remix the ad using one of eight different tracks – anything from Hip Hop to Bollywood. They could then send these on to their friends with a personalised message, creating a custom piece of content that was unique to them.

Hashtags become integral to TV campaigns

One of the key elements of the film, and one that turned out to be one of the most important, was including the hashtag on the end frame. It became integral to the campaign, linking all of the different elements together and bringing together the conversation. It allowed us to capitalise on the interest that the ad generated online. Our main goal was getting people to share the video and with this, 25% of all mentions of #DancePonyDance included a link to the ad.

We also saw that mentions of the hashtag, particularly at the start of the campaign, were intrinsically linked with appearing on TV.

Now, when I was talking about real-time marketing earlier I mentioned how we can try and react to the noise that we create ourselves. With #DancePonyDance we had thousands of people creating and sharing content which we wanted to reward. So we took some of our favourite Pony Mixes that people had made and hoisted them up on the TV – something we saw as a bit like a massive retweet. This was our way of being reactive. Perhaps not in the same way as the brands I mentioned earlier, but by planning ahead in order to try and achieve a similar effect.

Planning for real-time moments

‘Planning’ for real-time moments as well as reacting to them have always been on the agenda at W+K. Where joining a conversation that is relevant to your audience often prospers is that you are able to talk to them about something that they care about. Nine times out of ten, people couldn’t care less about what you have to say. So, talk to them about something that they are interested in.

Being reactive and commenting on culture can also help add context to your brand, or the story that you are trying to tell. For example, on Three, we are trying to say that we believe sharing silly stuff online is important, so if the opportunity arose to help contextualise this in a real-world example, it might be one that we decide to comment on.

The key word though in that last paragraph is ‘relevant’. The post-Super Bowl free-for-all has meant that lots of brands just seem to get stuck into whatever topic appears to be trending at the time. Pick those that mean something to your audience as well as those that you, as a brand, can have a point of view on.