FUSE FRIDAYS: Real time marketing is a farce


Over the last couple of years, ‘real-time marketing’ is a buzzword that has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue. And nowhere more so than in the context of social media marketing for consumer brands.

Should brands be relevant? Yes.

Should brands be relatable? Yes.

Should brands be topical? Yes.

Should brands be able to adjust their approach quickly? Yes.

But should we throw content planning out the window, and instead just sit on beanbags monitoring trends and news for ‘real-time’ opportunities to pop up? Probably not.

Oreo did something amazing during the 2013 Superbowl. You’ve all seen it a thousand times, but credit to them – the “You can still dunk in the dark” Tweet is amazing. Though despite this being a great piece of work, it has given marketers the false illusion that they can easily achieve similar glory by ceasing to plan content and shifting their social media attention and media allocations to chasing real time opportunities.

Oreo Screenshot

There have now been so many weak attempts by brands to jumps on real-time trends that it’s clear to see that this has gotten out of hand. Someone has even created a Tumblr named ‘Real-Time Marketing Sucks’.

Then there’s the really awful examples of brands jumping onto trends without checking the context, such as pizza brand DiGiorno jumping on a Twitter conversation about domestic violence.


So, what are we to do? To take advantage of real-time events well, you need to plan properly, have a strong brand with a strong identity that can be used as a platform. And only seize opportunities that have a cultural relevance for your brand. Look ahead to real-time opportunities you know are likely to happen – this can be as simple the fact that it gets cold in winter.

There is still a role for brands to set their own conversation – what matters is whether it’s something their audience is interested in. Being culturally relevant doesn’t have to be reactive.

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