Commentary

Are You Suffering From Real-Time-Marketing Addiction? Apparently So

Before I plunge into the real topic of this week’s column, let me stop for a moment and congratulate Facebook on finally proving to those know-nothing Wall Street types that the company has figured out mobile, and, BTW, figured it out better than most other companies. Unless you make iPhones for a living.

Some topline numbers: mobile accounted for 41% of ad revenue, at Facebook, rising from 30% in the last quarter, and revenue itself grew by 53% If you’re looking for comparisons to last year on the mobile figure, well, there ain’t none. That’s how insignificant mobile was to the company a year ago.

OK, but what I really want to rant about is the #royalbaby. Well, not the baby, actually, he looked very sweet. But what I really need to rant about is #BadAdTweetsAboutTheRoyalBaby.

People, let’s have our first-ever Social Media Insider intervention, focusing on RTMA, or that devastating disease called Real-Time-Marketing Addiction. Ever since the Super Bowl, some brands just can’t stop themselves from tweeting during big events. While for some brands, this works out, let’s face it: Most people have no more interest in hearing what you have to say about the #royalbaby than they do in reading the fine print in your annual report.

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This time around -- since we all knew the #royalbaby was coming -- the whole sorry state of affairs looked even worse. Advertisers actually had time to prepare. And, sadly, many, many advertisers still couldn’t get it right. Some outtakes:

From Charmin: “Get the throne ready! There's a new cub in the Royal family.” Picture: a Union Jack, a family crest, and a gold potty-training seat. Oy.

From Delta: “It’s a boy! Welcome, Prince of Cambridge. We can’t wait to show you the world.” Picture: A baby gazing up at a mobile made up of airplanes, and a crown. As if Prince George, will ever, ever fly commercial.

 

From Pizza Hut, winner of the award for blatant, entirely inexplicable tie-ins: “Introducing our very own royal #bundleofjoy: free side or dessert to any medium or large pizza through 7/25. Code: ROYALOFFER

Um, wow.

Which doesn’t mean that every real-time marketer performed badly. Oreo’s, featuring a baby bottle full of milk (natch), and an Oreo, with the tag, “Long Live the Creme,” was, at least, playful. And I think we can also give a tip of the hat to @Hostess_Snacks’, which tweeted: “This summer, a precious little bundle of sweetness was born. And Will and Kate also had their baby. …” The tweet really turned on the picture, a tongue-in-cheek depiction of a man lovingly holding a special little bundle in a blanket: a Twinkie.

If I had to define what divided tweets that worked from tweets that didn’t, mostly, ones that could make some real-world connection to babies fared better than others. A Coke ad declaring it “Time for a Royal Celebration,” featuring two Coke bottles retooled to say “Wills” and “Kate” was entirely off-the-mark; a Johnson & Johnson Facebook ad featuring a baby in bath tub, with a “crown” of soap bubbles on the baby’s head seemed in the proper spirit of celebrating not just the little prince, but babies in general.

However, there’s still something wrong with this whole trend. I know advertisers want to be relevant, and that it’s difficult to break through the clutter, but this whole obsession with piggybacking on current events, no matter what, smacks of something marketers should assiduously avoid: desperation.

There are plenty of good uses for real-time marketing, but those uses should focus on relevance to the target, not necessarily tweeting about real-time events that most the time have nothing to do with your brand.

It’s all about moderation, people.

3 comments about "Are You Suffering From Real-Time-Marketing Addiction? Apparently So".
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  1. Tyler Loechner from MediaPost, July 26, 2013 at 10:57 a.m.

    Totally agree Cathy. I wrote an RTBlog about this earlier this week..."Just because it's on Twitter doesn't mean it's real-time marketing" -- http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/205179/just-because-its-on-twitter-doesnt-mean-its-rea.html#axzz2ZyIZWEjT

  2. Jeremy Martin from JM, July 26, 2013 at 12:07 p.m.

    I have to disagree on some points. While the Charmin and Delta posts are just lame in general that doesn't mean they don't have a place to post something. Personally I think the Pizza Hut, Oreo, and Hostess posts are great. They could not possibly be more on-brand, IMO. Hostess and Oreo especially. They exude fun in every aspect of their brand and, usually, so does their creative. Just because they didn't feature someone eating a twinkie doesn't make it off-brand. J&J? That's clever, probably adorable, and completely on-brand.

    Now your other point about relevance to the market. You're just wrong. At least for the US. We need to face the fact that the majority of all humans in this country LOVE gossip. They love current events. Not the ones they should actually be paying attention to but whatever. Everyone has their guilty pleasure and tabloids is ours (unfortunately).

    So especially in the case of Hostess, whos target is pretty wide, in pretty much every aspect, and no offense are the most likely group of people who are obsessed with tabloid culture, I don't understand how their Tweet could possibly be any more relevant to their target or more on-brand.

    You can't be so literal with brand this and relevant that. It's not even fair to include companies like Coke (even though theirs was lame) and Hostess in this article because they have a target market, literally the size of the earth, and of course they're going to use these tools to reach every single niche as much as they can.

    I kind of get what you're saying but I think the companies are simply engaging their targets interests with clever creative as they should be. That doesn't mean that some of them are reaching too far or just plain awful. It just means they need better creative.

  3. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, July 29, 2013 at 3:26 a.m.

    Marketing is about moderation? Never gonna happen.

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