#OscarRTM Redux: An Untimely Column On Real-Time Marketing

Forgive me. If I were posting this column in real time, I would have had it up on the site before Seth McFarlane’s first utterance of the word “boobs” on Sunday night.

But every now and then, the Social Media Insider likes to let things sit and stew. So, after watching #OscarRTM unfold on Sunday night, like some meme gone horribly wrong, and then pondering it on and off all week, here’s my considered opinion: the industry’s ability to ride a bandwagon, without thought or reason, surprised even me. It’s amazing the whole thing didn’t break down under the weight of its own wobbly wagon wheels.

In case you missed it – and you’re lucky if you did – everyone from Kellogg’s to  Lean Cuisine to Special K to Stella Artois got in on the game, and let’s just say results varied. My guess is that real-time marketing jumped the shark probably before Seth McFarlane even walked on stage, let alone said “boobs.”

I have to say I knew this was going to happen. Kinda. The first clue was in my post-Super Bowl column, which ran on Feb. 8. In it, I wrote: “I have no doubt that during Super Bowl 2014 (and hell, maybe this year’s Oscars), the new black -- at least among those in the marketing world -- will be client/agency parties in which everyone is waiting to seize the moment, any moment.” 

And then came the Social Media Insider Summit several days later. The most talked-about topic, for three days straight, was Oreo’s blackout-inspired tweet during the Super Bowl. So, if anything, my column underplayed the fact that ever since Oreo, the marketing community had the real-time marketing potential of the Oscars in its crosshairs.

The #OscarRTM Monster, once unleashed, didn’t make the industry look good. Unless you think there’s an obvious connection between, say, Special K cereal and Les Miz; the only one I could find was that it’s possible Anne Hathaway went on some Special K-inspired diet to look emaciated for the movie. Or unless you think that a tweet that tries to link Sprint to Abraham Lincoln isn’t a complete stretch.

Which is not to say that every RTM ad was a disaster. And, in fact, the most interesting thing about #OscarRTM is contrasting which tweets worked and which didn’t, and what actually separates the two.

To me, it’s pretty simple. The advertising tweets that I thought worked had two things in common, besides the obvious fact that they were geared to happen in real time. They had a true tie-in to the show and they also had an air of authenticity. Of the 17 #OscarRTM tweets on Jay Baer’s Convince and Convert (which was my primary source for this column), my favorite was from Nintendo. It ran a visual of the Super Mario character Bowser proclaiming “’Wreck It Ralph’ Was Robbed.’” It had almost 1,300 retweets.

As Baer said, this in all likelihood was thought up in advance, which puts an interesting spin on the notion of real-time marketing. It turns out that sometimes – nay, most of the time -- good ideas take time.

2 comments about "#OscarRTM Redux: An Untimely Column On Real-Time Marketing".
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  1. Jason Baer from Convince & Convert, March 1, 2013 at 3:23 p.m.

    Thanks so much Catharine. I appreciate the link. Indeed, we haven't seen the last of RTM, and I believe our understanding of what's "good" is likely to shift a lot in the next year. Interesting times!

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, March 1, 2013 at 5:18 p.m.

    There is nothing here that important that can't wait for days, let alone hours.

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