Carefully Crafted on March 10

Ford and AutoMakers Get Smart about Real-Time Marketing

Every since Oreo’s “Super Bowl moment,” brands and their agencies have tried (and tried … and tried) to recreate that real-time, viral sensation. We saw some hits and misses just weeks ago during the Oscars. But, save for a few examples — such as Pantene’s #WantThatHair Oscar campaign, which was so successful in 2013 that they repeated it in 2014 — the general consensus is that these real-time marketing (RTM) efforts flop.

Why? Agencies and brands are devoting massive resources — dollars, time and talent — in an attempt to have their own “Oreo moment.” The problem is that most attempts at RTM feel forced. To some extent, Oreo and especially the Pantene efforts worked because the content naturally fits into the existing online chatter. This can’t always be planned. That’s why it’s called real time, not planned time. For this type of in-the-moment content to spur additional chatter and sharing, the natural fit is critical.

What does that look like? Ford and some other truck makers demonstrated perfectly last week. According to Motoramic,

Jimmy Fallon’s first weeks as the new host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show” has been warmly received. So when Fallon opened his show Wednesday night with a comment about wanting to buy a truck, Detroit’s truck marketers fell over themselves like teen-agers hearing Kate Upton wants an invitation to prom.

The first night, Fallon admitted he knew nothing about trucks and wasn’t looking for “payola,” just that he was thinking of buying a pickup that he could haul his child in.

From there, the automakers jumped in. Ford was first, mere minutes after Jimmy started discussing trucks.

The next day, Chevrolet and Ram got in on the action:


Did these achieve pop-culture Oreo status? No. Were they effective? Yes! The RTs from brand loyalists and Jimmy Fallon’s additional commentary on the next night’s show helped all three brands reach a large, targeted audience about a highly relevant topic — buying a new truck.

As marketers chase the elusive viral sensation, the savviest communicators are the ones discovering and leveraging natural opportunities to insert their brand into an existing conversation. That’s so much smarter and more effective than feeble attempts to go viral during pop-culture events.


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