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Digital marketing at real world events: Is it just hype?

There are a multitude of marketing opportunities out there every single day just waiting to be taken advantage of, but does having a clever advert or campaign that mimics real life translate into increased sales?

What real life events are there to integrate with?
There are literally events happening each and every day that are available to be pounced on by cunning and intelligent marketers. One of the more recent faux pas which presented itself was the botched singing of the South African national anthem by Just Jinger front man Ard Matthews.

The advertising agency behind the famed adverts of fast-food outlet Nando’s continued its run of social commentary by running a quick viral campaign around the event.

The question that presents itself with this kind of advertising is, “How much money did it make Nando’s?”

It definitely increased their share of voice on Twitter when they ran this campaign and looking at the #nandos search results you can see how the advert spread like wild fire on the day with many of the comments commending Nando’s for being so quick to react and for ensuring that “free speech” is not a thing of the past. When you look at the hash tag a little closer (specifically on the day the ad ran), though, there is very little mention of people reacting with an immediate need for chicken.

But surely that is the point of advertising? To get people to think of Nando’s and then to want a Nando’s treat. Well it is and it isn’t — Nando’s has arguably become the one company in South Africa and around the world that has managed to successfully tap into viral marketing again and again. The point of viral marketing is to get your brand shared in a positive way among your potential target market.

Who else is tapping the viral market success button?
At the AutoRAI 2011 motor exhibition, Renault converged the offline experience of being at the show with an online one. By using RFID chips inserted into the shows access passes, each guest coded their Facebook usernames and passwords on the card.

When they saw a Renault that they particularly liked, all they needed to do was to swipe their access card on the specially designed screens set up by each car. This automatically placed the information on the user’s Facebook page that they liked a particular car. This then also inserted a link where all the guests Facebook friends could also share in the experience and learn more about the car which their friend had liked.

Does viral marketing really work?
Viral marketing definitely has its place in any marketing arsenal but is it not just the place of big business who have money to burn (or so to speak). Small business does not readily have the available disposable cash to pursue viral marketing mechanics as a general rule. Viral marketing has a very dotted line back to ROI which is a luxury that the current economic climate does not allow many organisations.

Being the social commentators around a variety of issues is an angle that marketers can exploit to gain share of voice and brand exposure. Yes, winning advertising awards and notoriety are excellent feathers in any marketer’s cap but the real value and, ultimately what the yard stick should be from any marketing campaign, viral or not, is how many sales it has translated in to, not how many awards it has won.

Image: springwise.com

Author | Jonathan Houston

Jonathan Houston
Jonathan Houston is passionate about digital marketing and digital strategy. During the day, Jonathan is the Head of Digital Marketing for HKLM. Jonathan's work at HKLM includes strategy conceptualization, focusing on the alignment of digital marketing to business strategy as well as assisting HKLM's clients on fulfilling their digital... More
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