Recently we’ve seen some excellent examples of brands joining the conversation around big events and news.
We absolutely love Gumtree’s quick response to the political turmoil of late.
And Bath-based kitchen company Coopers made the most of Brexit in their shop window.
These examples show how important it is to always be open to opportunities and to react quickly. You don’t always need to plan a big campaign either; a clever and well-timed tweet can work just as well!
So with our latest Quidco campaign currently capitalising on 2016’s summer of sport, we decided to share a few of our top tips on how to associate your brand with major events.
1) DON’T FALL FOUL OF THE LAW
If you are planning campaigns around major events like the Olympics or the World Cup, you need to be careful of how you present your brand, avoiding anything that suggests you are an official partner or sponsor. Certain events such as the Olympics have significant constraints.
There are currently no specific laws in the UK to protect against ‘ambush marketing’, however event organisers can use IP protection such as passing off or registered trademarks to prosecute. But as long as you stick to the guidelines, there’s no reason why your brand shouldn’t get involved in the conversation!
2) OFFER AN ALTERNATIVE
Freeview’s World Cup campaign Love or Hate Football acknowledged that not all potential customers were football lovers, but used the hype of the World Cup to encourage people to switch to Freeview.
When you know your audience inside-out, you can tailor campaigns to suit their interests whilst still capitalising on big events.
3) USE #HASHTAGS (WITH CAUTION!)
Hashtags are a source of debate for ambush marketing laws. Brands can tweet “So proud to be British today #TeamGB” but not “So proud of our wonderful #TeamGB today”. Why? One suggests you are just a proud British business, the other suggests you are a sponsor.
It’s a fine line. In the States, the US Olympic Committee have adopted a heavy-handed approach to non-sponsors using the #TeamUSA hashtag ahead of the upcoming Olympic Games, despite interpretation of the legislation around it still being disputed.
But if utilised properly, hashtags can be a lasting asset to your company. Volkswagen, despite not being a sponsor of UEFA Euro 2016, used the #EURO2016 hashtag to tweet live ’emoji reactions’ to events occurring on the pitch.
It was billed as one of the most successful Twitter campaigns of the tournament.
4) BE AWARE OF CULTURAL NUANCES
If you are planning an international campaign, you need to be careful about what your use of words or images will mean in other countries or cultures.
Could your use of words, numbers or phrases have a different meaning elsewhere? Will you offend anyone, or maybe just completely miss the mark? Is there a local cultural significance around the date you have chosen? Or maybe a big game or holiday you should take into account?
The Beijing Olympics was delayed so that the opening ceremony was on the eighth of August 2008, as eight is an important number in China.
Six is also lucky, as are iterations of it such as 666. But you could never carry a campaign that used 666 into the UK as it has different associations altogether!
5) CONSIDER WHETHER IT’S APPROPRIATE
Just because an event has captured public attention, doesn’t mean it is right for your brand.
At best, association with an unrelated event means your campaign doesn’t quite hit the mark. But at the very worst it can have disastrous consequences.
Designer Kenneth Cole jumped onto a trending hashtag about riots in Cairo with this grossly insensitive tweet, which provoked outrage and considerably damaged his brand.
And there are so many examples of companies doing this. Using the misfortune of others as a promotional opportunity is pretty low. So make sure your team have clear guidelines about trending topics relevant to your objectives and your brand.