As you may have heard, the Pontiff is in town this week! Pope Francis’s historic visit to our fair little country has dominated local and national media coverage almost nonstop. In our fractured media landscape, such instances of a singularly dominant news event are increasingly rare – and even more rarely are they for “positive” news.
As such, the opportunity to connect themselves to such an event and position themselves brand in front of such a large and captive audience is obviously very enticing to a lot of brands. Just because you can do something, however, doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
The rise of social media has fueled the increase of “real-time marketing” – the ability for brands to market in real-time based on popular and/or high-profile events. The big deal used to be – and still is, to some extent – who had the best Super Bowl commercial, for example; equally important nowadays is who has the best tweet based on actual events taking place during the game.
It’s an exciting proposition. Again, with our media landscape as fractured and decentralized as it is, it’s a big deal to be able to take advantage of so many people in the same “place” at the same time. A perfectly timed tweet or Facebook post can positively position your product in front of a massive, rapt audience.
As with anything, however, there are potential downfalls. Even with a captive audience, it can be hard to cut through the clutter. And you can come off as overly opportunistic or woefully out of touch if your product (or your brand) isn’t even remotely connected to the event or topic. Sometimes, it’s better to be quiet than to be obnoxious or tone-deaf. (We call this the “9/11 Rule.” It’s fairly self-explanatory.)
For some brands – like Fiat – it’s easier to capitalize on the Pope’s visit than it is for others. Like anything, successful real-time marketing requires a healthy combination of circumstance, observation and, most importantly, discretion. The event – and the opportunity it presents – needs to be more than just big. For your product and your brand, it needs to be right.