Is it mere reaction? Or is it smart advertising?

Trace a relationship between the following:

Kitkat and iPhone

Super Bowl XLVII and Oreo

Snickers and Luis Suarez (The footballer)

Denny’s Diner and Scandal (TV Series)

NissanUK and Royal Baby (Kate & William’s child)

Don’t Google now. Making it convenient for you:


(Super Bowl XLVII’s now infamous blackout)



Didn’t social media marketing assume a new level of significance? I’ll tell you what’s different about this particular trend of “reacting” to an event, grabbing the context and “advertising” one’s own brand.

The 2013 Super Bowl blackout was a 34-minute hiatus. While the world groaned and viewers turned to their phones to respond to texts or check out Facebook, Twitter; Oreo delighted everyone with the tweet (shown above). With 10,000 retweets in 1 hour, this economically cheap mode of advertising scored better than Oreo’s actual Super Bowl ad, which ran to millions of dollars!

How did it happen in 34 minutes: The approval from the communications team, strategist, content editor etc.?

This is when we realize the fiercely smart planning for opportunistic advertisement by Oreo that night.

There was a 15-person social media team ready for any response to any event that could happened in the Super Bowl game that night. What luck! The advertisers, copywriters demonstrated agility during that 34-minute blackout window and the tweet served as the tipping point of a trend called: Reactvertising.

One may call it a form of social listening; a way of presenting your brand as one that is cognizant of world happenings or exhibiting intelligent creativity to further brand recall. These ads are reactive: the response time is a few minutes after the event they’re capitalizing on takes place. It’s a whole exciting face of social media marketing as brands feel alive, running in motion with world trends and closer to consumers’ worlds.

One of my friends, a copywriter in Hyderabad posted this as a reaction to Flipkart’s Big Billion Day fiasco:


And one of the most adorable ones is NASA’s tweet during the 2014 Oscars:


But then, there are those who pushed it too far:


Leveraging an event has a lot to do with the context of the event itself. No one gets severely affected if an iPhone bends (at least not physically, mental sour is subjective) but you cannot leverage on Hurricane Sandy and Cairo riots. Brand recall? Oh yes, but a really negative connotation to it. Not done.

Taking a dig on this trend that can oscillate between the hyper-reactive and the acceptable-reactive part of advertising, the advertising agency, John st. has come up with a hilarious video:

A personal touch, food for thought:

Sometimes we should prevent ourselves from getting subdued by the thick jargon of Kotler and view the world of marketing by analyzing such undercurrents around us.

Marketing/ advertising seems more fun then.

Nitisha Tomar is a PGP1 Student (2014-16) in IIM Ahmedabad


One thought on “Reactvertising”

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