After a 205-day journey, NASA’s Insight landed successfully on Mars. When Insight sent back its first photo, brands took advantage of the social buzz and had a bit of fun. All jokes aside, these brand reactions display a trend of remaining agile in an ever-changing consumer landscape—recognizing opportunities on the fly and executing them in style.
We live in an age where topics and ideas move fast across the internet, so fast that often brands are left by the wayside as they tried to jump into the convesation. Trending topics and current events create opportunities for brands—especially on the social media team—to join the conversation.
In the case of NASA’s Insight Mars landing, brands knew that the world would be watching. Timing the perfect reaction allowed several of them to share the spotlight. Among them was Bethesda, the game publisher behind Doom—a horror series set on Mars. Two words, “good luck” garnered nearly 80,000 likes and 18,000 comments, garnering valuable earned media just months after a new game was revealed.
good luck… https://t.co/GEZATUouPQ
— DOOM (@DOOM) November 26, 2018
Other brands imagined themselves or their franchises on the Red Planet. Popular video game World of Warcraft posted a screenshot that resembled Mars, joking that it was new footage. Fans responded with jokes and acknowledged the planet’s resemblance to that of Azeroth, the game’s homeworld. Blizzard, the game’s publisher, enjoyed a bit of extra attention by posting the timely message on the heels of a new expansion.
German soccer club Borussia Dortmund inserted a player into a photo either of Mars or made to resemble the planet’s surface, calling it “raw footage.” The brand took advantage of the timing between Insight’s landing and the Champions League game on Wednesday.
Oddly enough, the most obvious brand we’d expect to react—Mars Incorporated—didn’t acknowledge the landing at all.
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) November 26, 2018
Reacting to events has become a challenging strategy. Substantially more brands posted social media reactions to the 2017 eclipse, for example. When Hostess decreed that its cupcakes were the official snack of the eclipse, MoonPie earned half a million likes by responding, “lol ok.” The attention garnered consumer and media attention alike, just in time for the brand to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad tapped into the athlete’s personal and professional struggles and caused a 31 percent jump in sales. According to Apex Marketing Group, the divisive Nike campaign generated over $43 million in media exposure within its first 19 hours.
This summer, Kraft responded to a news report that children were being fined for having a lemonade stand or getting shut down altogether. They created a legal team called “Country Time Legal-Ade” that reimbursed children’s fines. The activation was quickly picked up the media and Kraft found itself in the spotlight —all because the team reacted quickly to the news and saw an opportunity.
In a 2016 piece in Fast Company aptly titled, “Moving At The Speed Of Culture Is The New Brand Imperative,” strategist Guy Gouldavis observed that brands, as consumers, have a FOMO—that is, the fear of missing out.
“The cult of the moment unites people as a group in a different way than communities typically bond,” he said. “Understanding these dynamics is the first step to being able to tap and convert its potential.”