5 How-Tos For Real-Time Campaigns

I spoke with Adam Padilla, president of BrandFire, an agency that creates real-time marketing campaigns, about creative challenges that marketers face when they’re devising real-time campaigns. Padilla says there are a few things to keep in mind:

1.Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: “Marketers need to keep their content relevant so it can be picked up by social media, and make sure that they’re connecting to the right topic at the right time. They need to choose wisely and figure out what they’re hitching their wagon to, and the timing,” Padilla says.

He shared an example from 2013, when his agency tried to create some video content for SpendSmart Card, a credit card for teenagers to help them manage their finances better. The video content used Justin Bieber just as the Beebs faced a downturn in perception. He’d urinated into a bucket and uttered an expletive about former President Bill Clinton.

“We created a great platform and messaging, but the client wound up taking a big hit. The card was about taking financial responsibility -- and we had a spokesman who didn’t look responsible,” Padilla says.

2. Try to find a new spin: “Marketers need to find a unique angle so they have more of a chance to be retweeted or quoted," says Padilla.

"You don’t want to say the same things everyone else is saying. You want to have a brainstorming session and get some opinions other than your own. You need to change the conversation, raise eyebrows and make people smile.”

Padilla offers a current example. His agency is working with Little Bird Chocolates, a Queens-based artisanal chocolate maker that places spicy flavors in its sweets. BrandFire is devising a digital sticker campaign where a bird is flying and dropping chocolates that appear like little flaming bombs.

3.Know when to let go of it: “Real-time concepts are fleeting. These aren’t Super Bowl commercials. They are campaigns that are meant to be disposable. They live and die in a moment. When the news cycle shifts, you let it go. Use the moment, have fun in the moment and then let it go.”

A lot of companies, Padilla says, want to use their creative beyond a real-time event. Big mistake.  

4.Keep creative quality at a high level: “Just because it’s fast, doesn’t mean marketers don’t have to check the creative against their brand guidelines. They shouldn’t just push something out there that doesn’t meet their high standards. They have to set the bar high.”

Padilla makes the point that with real-time efforts, speed takes over and marketers just want to get the content out. But the reality is that the content lasts forever because it’s out there! It’s true: Real-time bombs live forever on the Web.

5. Go with your gut: “When you’re doing real-time marketing efforts, you don’t have the luxury of doing tons of research or focus group work. And some things just aren’t researchable. Marketers need people who are immersed in pop culture and know what’s going on," Padilla says. "If not, find people who know. But don’t get caught up in crowd-sourcing an idea with 100 people — you’ll get 100 different opinions. It’s lightning in a bottle — you can’t get too caught up in the metrics. Get used to the uncertainty."

BrandFire tells clients to listen to their own internal voices. Or, trust your agency’s expertise or the pop culture mavens in your company.

In the end, Padilla says real-time campaigns are about “quality, passion and consistency — and having that utterly unique idea that has the right timing.”

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