Marketing goes real-time

30 March 2011

NEW YORK: Brand owners like Kraft, Toyota and Coca-Cola are exploiting the real-time features of social media to enhance their marketing.

Kraft, the food manufacturer, is utilising this approach for its Mac & Cheese brand, through a scheme developed with agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

More specifically, the company tracked posts discussing Mac & Cheese on microblogging service Twitter, picked five relevant comments, and produced related ads in a single afternoon.

One resulting effort was aired during episodes of Lopez Tonight and Conan, both shown on TBS, while the other four are destined for the Mac & Cheese official Facebook page.

"I think social media has given us the opportunity to engage in real time," Noelle O'Mara, senior brand manager, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, told Mashable.

This strategy remains at a nascent stage for Kraft, which will wait before deciding whether to repeat such an exercise.

"We're focused on today," said O'Mara. "We'll see how it goes."

This follows the "Mac & Jinx" campaign, where Kraft contacted two Twitter members mentioning Mac & Cheese, and gave prizes to the one replying fastest, yielding it a "trending topic" as a consequence.

Elsewhere, Coca-Cola recently held a digital "24 Hour Session" seeing the band Maroon 5 and ten aspiring teenage musicians deliver an original song in one day.

Netizens were asked to submit lyrics and suggestions aiding this process, as well as helping make "critical decisions" using Coke's Twitter feed.

The 24 Hour Session, shown live on Coca-Cola's website and promoted on Facebook, forms part of the firm's music-focused marketing platform hoping to attract young consumers.

"We can't afford not to talk to teens," said Shay Drohan, Coca-Cola's senior vp, sparkling brands.

"You can't think, 'Teens already know us,' and skip a couple of years. Every six years there's a new population of teens in the world."

Similarly, automaker Toyota is holding an event on March 30 and 31, challenging drivers of the Prius to try and set 200 world records.

Having allied with the Universal Record Database, Toyota has requested customers upload videos, and add posts to Twitter and a dedicated website, which will also host real-time footage of attempts in progress.

Among the examples cited by Toyota are the "most pool noodles fit[ting] inside the cargo area of a Prius v" and the "largest mural created during a 3-hour Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle charge."

Bob Zeinstra, Toyota's US national manager, advertising and strategic planning, argued this model yielded a novel method of reaching consumers.

"Toyota Prius Records gives us the opportunity to engage our incredibly loyal Prius owners and enthusiasts in a highly unique way," he said.

"The live streaming, record-breaking approach leverages interactive technology and provides a great catalyst for community participation."

Last year, Procter & Gamble, the FMCG giant, gained considerable viral traction for Old Spice by making 186 videos starring pitchman Isaiah Mustafa responding to questions posed by netizens.

Alongside generating 21m hits on YouTube in the campaign's first week, Old Spice accrued eight of the site's top 11 pieces of content in the same period.

When rolling out body washes, sprays and deodorants, Old Spice gave a "superfan" the chance to exclusively premier new material, where Mustafa pursues a "scent vacation", on their website.

"We felt like we could build some excitement behind this latest launch, letting people know we're bringing Isaiah back, and continue to reward our fans across social media," said James Moorhead, brand manager for Old Spice.

Data sourced from Mashable, AdAge, Toyota, Appleton Post Crescent; additional content by Warc staff