Social media have changed the dynamics of content marketing and advertising. We take a look at five of the best examples of brands using reactive marketing to involve themselves in the conversation around a current issue.

(ed: Check out our updated list of 5 more reactive moments here in 2016.

Today, many brands are engaged in creating communications and stories in-house, and distributing them directly to consumers. This is nothing new or exclusive to the web – content marketing has been around for a long time – advertorial sections in newspapers, ads dressed up as informational broadcasts, and specialized publications all fall under the category. Today however, the dynamics are different: brands can communicate directly and instantly with consumers through Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, and join the conversation about a new development in fashion, sports, or any other niche.

Now that brands can communicate at the push of a button, there exists a new opportunity to get their message across in hype-cycles that last for only a few hours or days rather than weeks and months. Oreo’s use of the Super Bowl blackout to propel their “Dunk in the Dark” tweet has become the canonical example of an agile marketing team taking advantage of a brief moment experienced by tens of millions of consumers. This is reactive marketing – the practice of tailoring your content to the watercooler conversation topics of the day, hour or even minute.

Marketing in real-time isn’t easy – an ill-conceived tweet can spark a social media firestorm, and there is often a very small window of opportunity that doesn’t allow for long content authorization chains. The best brands using reactive content marketing are reaping the rewards of their bravery and innovation. Here’s a few examples of how brands can use topical humour to earn a place in news conversations.

Paddy Power

During the European horse meat scandal, Paddy Power created a cookbook entitled “Cooking up Mischief – Six Delicious Horse Meat Recipes” to accompany the headline news. With a little humour and a lot of creativity, Paddy Power capitalized on current news to entertain consumers. Taking things further, after the news of the scandal broke throughout the continent, the company featured a “Free Horse Burger” stand outside Dublin’s Merrion Square. Maybe they used a recipe from their cookbook?


Along the same lines as Paddy Power, Mini decided to use the European horse meat scandal to its advantage. With one simple advertisement, and a clever play on words, Mini pushed its name into the discussion. As a popular European brand with a large social media following, Mini was able to reach its consumers with ease.


When the wrong Korean flag was mistakenly displayed during the Olympics, causing protest among the North Korean women’s football team, Specsavers didn’t waste any time creating an advertisement reacting to the event. With both the North and South Korean flags featured, the brand seamlessly connected the mistake with their “should have gone to Specsavers” ad campaign. Creative lead for Specsavers, Graham Daldry, said “We were on the lookout for an Olympic ‘Should’ve’ and we haven’t had to wait long for a classic”


Think laundry detergent is too bland a product to generate attention with reactive content marketing? You’re wrong. With nearly 100,000 Twitter followers and 3.5 million likes on Facebook, Tide makes itself heard through a constant stream of tweets and statuses. By using current events as a marketing strategy focus, the brand places itself in the real world with consumers. Tide’s content marketing shone brightly through the Super Bowl blackout. Moments after the lights of the Superdome went dark, Tide sent the below message out on Twitter. The combination of simplicity and timing sent Tide’s tweet viral, and all it took was a little quick thinking.


The soccer world was shocked at the news of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement as manager of Manchester United earlier this year. Nando’s chicken restaurants capitalised on a unique moment for an entire generation of football fans with some quick-thinking – tweeting that its Manchester branches would stay open an extra five minutes, a reference to United opponents’ long-held belief in “Fergie-time”, the extra time intimidated referees apparently allowed United in order to equalise or take the lead.

… The Lessons

1. Always be aware of what is going on in the world. An average day’s news won’t be significant to the masses, but the one day when it is your brand shouldn’t miss a marketing opportunity due to a lack of awareness.

2. Be concise.

3. Have a sense of humor. Consumers are more open to laughing than being bored (but isn’t that obvious?).

If you need real-time intelligence on the stories driving the world’s emerging watercooler conversations, you need to try Spike.