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No more dunking in the dark

News, 05 February 2016

NEW YORK: Brands are no longer so anxious to be seen to respond in real-time to unfolding events and most have moved on from having a war-room strategy for major occasions such as the Super Bowl.

It's only three years since Oreo sparked a rush to real-time marketing with its "you can still dunk in the dark" tweet during a power failure at Super Bowl 47, but the approach that produced that line is now seen as dated.

"The concept of the war room is 100% dead," according to Marc Gallucci, founder and CEO Relevant24, a Publicis Groupe-owned agency.

"The idea was, 'let's all pay attention to what people care about right now and then push something quick out' – but that's not a one-day-a-year thing; it's a business practice," he told Digiday.

As Digiday noted, "chasing real-time blips isn't a sound long-term strategy" and can actually distract from the serious business of structuring internal processes to keep up with an ever-changing digital culture.

Brands have also done their sums and concluded war-rooms aren't necessarily worth the money involved, with some of the most effective social media responses being composed by employees at home on their sofas.

"War rooms are really expensive investments and also taxing on employees," said Orli LeWinter, vice president/strategy and social marketing at 360i, a digital agency owned by Dentsu. "Brands need to be very strategic about them.

"If real-time readiness is crucial to the campaign it can be an asset, but it should be used judiciously," she added.

The nature of social media has also changed since 2013, with brands no longer able to rely on organic reach. "It's a paid-media game today and with that, comes a lot more preparation than real-time inspiration," noted Gareth Goodall, partner and chief strategy officer at Anomaly, a creative agency.

So an idea like "dunking in the dark" can still work but brands are now planning for such eventualities. Relevant24 last year created content in advance based around some possible on-field plays which could then be customised in real time on game night.

"I'd say the war room has given way to a campsite," suggested Kevin Del Rosario, associate director of social at Interpublic's Huge, a digital agency. "Real-time marketing needs to be a built-in strategy all year round," he said.

Data sourced from Digiday; additional content by Warc staff