By Naresh Gupta
It was in 2013 that Oreo put out a tweet that generated buzz, made it an instant hit and made the brand famous. Moment marketing can, perhaps, even be called an Oreo stunt meme. Honestly, in 2013, the word meme was just coming into being, unlike today when everything is a meme.
So, why is it that brands want to jump on the moment meme bandwagon? Why do a few ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ matter so much to brands, who otherwise spend a lot of media money to drive interactions? Why is it that a fleeting interaction with a very limited impact becomes so important to brands?
Seizing the moment
These are tough questions. Real-time marketing, today, is almost the need of most brands. This is possibly fuelled by the never-ending social media news cycle. When the listening tool suggests that a certain current event has a greater share of voice, brands tend to jump on that chatter to own a small piece of that conversation. Brands don’t want to be parasitic in their tonality, but when they see their ‘benchmark’ brand do it, they feel the urge to join in.
This is then fuelled by the online aggregators who tend to ‘award’ posts that come up every day. I have had clients insisting that if they get featured in the online listing on the website, they have arrived on social media. That is what is wrong with this entire social media fuelled need for mass participation.
I understand that brands cannot be immune to what is happening around them. If there is a big ‘moment’, they have to be a part of it. Brands do live in the fear of missing out; there is always someone who will score a viral hit. This is where brands have to work very hard to make it happen. Take Holi for instance: there isn’t one brand that will not want to be a part of the moment. Every brand will want to wish ‘a very colourful Holi’ full of fun, gaiety, gujiya, gulal and water guns. I got wished by almost every brand I saw on social media; however, my recall of the brand may be limited to just one.
Similarly, on April Fools’ Day several brands attempted to trick their fans; but did they succeed? Besides Voltswagen, did we even discuss any? Did the Voltswagen news really trick anyone?
Riding the wave
Moments cannot change the basis of advertising. Advertising is meant to create a disruption to persuade. For brands to ride the wave of a moment, it has to be either relevant, memorable or persuasive. These three points are not new; all communication is created with these three factors in mind, except when a brand wants to ride a conversation bandwagon and become hooked more to the conversation and less to the brand story.
A brand can never own the moment, even with the biggest media budgets, unless you make it a part of the brand culture. Burger King may be the king of moment marketing — it is intrusive and memorable in what it does. John Lewis is memorable for what it produces for Christmas, and Surf is memorable as it chooses its moments carefully.
But even the masters get it wrong. Like Burger King did on International Women’s Day. Back home, even the mighty Amul has been trolled for getting the message wrong. As brands look forward to the next moment, they should evaluate three things: do they need it, will it be relevant, and will it be memorable. I would think that brands don’t need to be communicating at every moment. The brand matters more than the moment.
The author is CSO and managing partner, Bang in the Middle