Insights on Real-Time Marketing

an interview with
Anne-Marie Kline SVP/ Account Management, DigitasLBI

Thanks to those clever folks at Oreo who stole last year’s Superbowl spotlight, real-time marketing  was among the hottest topics of 2013. (It even warranted its own abbreviation: RTM!)  Agencies and clients scrambled to set up “newsrooms” in the hopes of thrusting brands into “the conversation” at just the right moment.  Similarly, marketing swat teams were poised to pounce just in case opportunity knocked again during live events. Not surprisingly, few matched Oreo’s success at catching lightning in a bottle.  As the year progressed, “newsjacking” became both commonplace and an opportunity for epic fails (see top 16 from Econsultancy.)

As with all such trendy / newish / emerging  marketing approaches, once the excitement wears off, the professionals move in and help bring some discipline to the party. One such pro is Anne-Marie Kline, SVP/Account Management at DigitasLBI, whose agency has helped P&G and Buick among others ride the RTM wave.  I was delighted to catch up with Anne-Marie prior to our panel discussion next week at MediaPost’s Social Media Insider Summit.  As you will see, being a RTM practitioner is neither easy nor for the faint of heart.

Drew: Define real time marketing in the fewest number of words possible.  

RTM happens when a brand expresses humanity.

Drew: Can you provide some brief examples?

Tide: The Onion published a story about a Tide Brand Manager talking about a viral video – it was poking fun at Tide [and] the entire marketing community’s obsession with viral videos.  Tide responded in the only way possible – they made the video and posted it.  The Onion responded and the video took off in social media.  [For Tide examples see these Adweek stories–Sharkweek and Halloween]

Buick: During in Buick’s daily monitoring they noticed the trend of putting the phone down and enjoying life.  #putthephonedown  was trending off and on and Buick started making suggestions of what to do when you put the phone down in full support of Buick’s discovery platform.  Then they hooked up with Rhett and Link of Youtube and created a video all about putting the phone down and created a bigger effort to get people to enjoy #inthemoment. They supported it on their tumblr feed, asked the audience to make a pledge for being in the moment, and finally taking Christmas day off – from social media. [See Adweek story]

Drew: What does it take to pull programs like this off?  

  1. Dedicated resources on both sides on a daily basis.  This is about not only being ready to respond, but to build the muscle memory.   Listen, Create and Distribute.
  2. Present to the approver, next step legal if you have to.  Gone are the days of having multiple rounds of approval.  Relevance has a deadline and you will miss it if you are stuck in a conference room presenting ideas.  The client is much more in the creation, which helps to get ideas into market more quickly.
  3. Senior brand leadership to help clear the hurdles.
  4. Knowledge that you can’t do this for free with a skeleton staff.  It’s not free.  Budget must be earmarked for media and content creation.  Content shouldn’t be created unless a distribution strategy has been thought through.  Earned media has such power, more than is being realized just yet.

Drew: What are the three reasons why real-time programs fall flat? 

  1. When a brand forces entry into a conversation that they have no business being in.
  2. They approach real time in isolation — as a stunt– with no anchor in the broader brand messaging.
  3. Has nothing to do with what people care about.  You have to find the intersection between what is interesting to the audience and the brand purpose.

Drew: What’s your favorite real-time program that you or your agency didn’t have a hand in?

Mini Cooper does a great job on a regular basis.  One of my favorites was what they did around the horse in beef scandal in the UK.

Drew: Should we be talking about real-time as a separate thing or is just part of a smart social strategy today?

I know its called the Social Media Insider Summit, but Real-Time is a core / foundational piece to a sound marketing strategy.  What brand doesn’t want to engage with their audience on an everyday basis in a relevant manner while providing value?  This is what Real-Time can do for a brand.  It is always on and should be an integral part whether you are talking about expressing the idea in social channels or traditional.

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