Responsive marketing refers to marketing strategy built on anticipating known upcoming events and then building a marketing campaign around them. These events could range from an upcoming sport events to annual holidays. Brands can build a marketing campaign around these events so that the brand can remain relevant and increase brand awareness. Furthermore, because the brand knows these events, they can tailor a campaign specifically to run parallel with it, and thus try and link the brand with that event. A recent example would be how Burger King has released a limited edition black Whopper burger in response to Halloween.
The issue with responsive marketing is that if the campaign does not take off, then all the time and effort put into it would be wasted and people could lose faith in the brand. An even bigger issue is that the campaign might just not take off, but it could actually backfire. The band U2 and Apple teamed up in late 2014 with Apple automatically downloading U2’s new album ‘Songs of Innocence’ onto 500 million Apple devices, whether the owner wanted it or not. The idea was that both U2 and Apple would get free publicity, but many users were unhappy that the album had been downloaded without their permission. So great was the failure, that Bono, U2’s frontman, had to publically apologize. However, if everything is successful, the brand could potentially be forever linked with that event, as happened to Pantene. Pantene launched a social media campaign for the 2013 Oscars with #WantThatHair, and it’s still trending today with the 2015 Oscars. Preparation is key to a brand’s success, and so responsive marketing is an incredibly important weapon in any brand’s marketing arsenal.
Real-time marketing differs from responsive marketing in a number of key ways. Real-time marketing is marketing that happens immediately after an unpredictable event has occurred. Furthermore, since the event is unexpected, the brand has very little time to A: come up with campaign, and B: to check the campaign for issues. The most famous, and most successful, was Oreo’s tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl blackout. Oreo’s ‘you can still dunk in the dark’ tweet was retweeted 10,000 times in one hour, and is one of the most successful real-time marketing campaigns ever done. Real-time marketing can cause a rapid spike in the popularity of the brand, and massively increase brand awareness, especially if done right. In addition to this, if the advert does not go viral, a minimal amount of effort has been put into it, and so the brand doesn’t suffer too much.
However, real-time marketing can go drastically wrong, due to the fact that there isn’t as extensive system of checks, because the content needs to go out immediately to keep pace with the incident. This means inappropriate, or even downright insensitive, adverts can make it to the public sphere. The American clothing brand ‘American Apparel’ decided it would be a good idea to put a sale on their clothing during Hurricane Sandy, stating ‘In case you’re bored during the storm’. Naturally there was a huge backlash. Another problem with real-time marketing, as clever as it may be, is that the spike in popularity is only short term, because there isn’t an extensive campaign backing it and keeping popularity high.
Both responsive and real-time have their benefits and drawbacks, but arguably if a brand wants to both keep ahead of their competition, and keep brand awareness high, then they must exploit both marketing strategies, instead of being too focused on one or the other.