Weekend Whatnot: The Era of Reactvertising™

John St., a Toronto-based ad agency, regularly produces scathing parody videos about the ad business – including one released late last month about the breakneck pace of marketing today and how every brand feels the need to react to real-time events within minutes.

In the video, John St. pretends to run a whole dedicated unit called Reactvertising™, where it goes to absurd lengths to make sure its clients are clued into current events 24/7 and can react within seconds to breaking news.

While the video is meant to be a parody, it does highlight some very real trends in the advertising business. Seconds after the power went out during last year’s Super Bowl, Oreo “won the Internet” by tweeting an ad that read “Power Out? No problem” with a starkly-lit image of a solitary Oreo and the caption “You can still dunk in the dark.” The tweet caught on immediately and got tens of thousands of re-tweets.

Oreo-dunk-dark-tweet173Image Credit: Forbes

Similarly, when Pharrell appeared on-stage at the Grammys with a quite the unique and memorable hat, Arby’s almost immediately tweeted “Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back? #Grammys” and it was retweeted almost 100,000 times.

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 10.21.20 AM

The problem with this trend is that while it gets brands brief, huge engagement, they are also leeching on to events in news, entertainment, and sports as they happen instead of creating their own stories.

As the video tells us: “With reactvertising, you’re not just borrowing interest, you’re creating the illusion your brand is actually interesting.” Still, I imagine we will see much more of this kind of advertising over the next few years (or as long as social media remains important to brands).


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