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Agile project management is something that many tech teams have adopted in the past few years, to rapidly build and develop new products, and to finesse existing ones. There is a focus on sprints, and on getting things done quickly. 

Increasingly, we are seeing the signs that marketing teams are also becoming more agile. Consider the amount of advertising and marketing that is based around a news hook. This is nothing new, but it seems to be on the rise.

Social media might be one reason why agile marketing is on the rise. Brands have spent the last few years figuring out how to react on the likes of Twitter and Facebook. They now know what works, in terms of the type of content they share and produce. Social media has also allowed a lot of brands to establish a new tone of voice: more human, more transparent, and - as we shall see - more humourous. 

The ability to react quickly on social channels is important, to nip things in the bud, and to encourage interaction and engagement. Many companies are now doing this well, and some have figured out that rapid response can be applied to marketing more broadly. If done correctly, it will be amplified on social media (note the number of 'favourites' and 'retweets' in the Super Bowl tweets below). Earned media FTW. 

I thought I’d compile a bunch of examples of agile marketing, although, by way of a caveat, some of these things may have been planned a little while in advance. While I can’t be absolutely sure of the processes involved or speed of execution, I do know that these examples are mainly ‘reactionary’, be that a response to a news story, to customer or user feedback, or to another brand. I have a bunch of ideas on how to structure an agile marketing team and the kind of processes to put in place, but I’ll explore all of that in a separate post. 

Ok, let’s check them out...

First up, three Super Bowl-related tweets. When the lights failed, some sharp marketers spotted an opportunity... 

Tide

Audi

Oreo

Oreo also supported Gay Pride by posting a picture of a rainbow-coloured biscuit on Facebook. I’m not sure if it was planned well in advance or dreamt up the day before, but its backing of equal rights generated 300,000 likes and 90,000+ shares (as well as a lot of backlash from the narrow-minded, as you might expect). 

AMC Theatres

While we’re talking about Oreo, here's AMC sticking it to Oreo. A little brand sparring on Twitter keeps people entertained... a rising tide floats all boats, right?

 

Kraft’s Jell-O Pudding giveaway

After the 49ers lost the Super Bowl Kraft launched a 'consolation' giveaway...

Specsavers

The optician had fun at Edwin Hazard's expense, after the footballer laid into a timewasting ball boy

Meanwhile, Tesco (among other brands) made the news recently after some of its beef products were found to contain horsemeat. This has caused a lot of outrage, and much mirth, not least among marketers...

Virgin

PaddyPower

 

BMW vs Audi

Moving away from horses, this is probably my favourite outdoor ad campaign, a classic game of oneupmanship... 

Touche, Audi!

Ann Summers

One of the first implementations of a paid search campaign based around a news hook. Vaguely contextual, I guess! 

Howies’ #savebbc6music t-shirt

The clothing brand clearly loves good music and tapped into the campaign to save BBC Radio 6 by producing a t-shirt...

 

Bookseller’s Association: ‘We pay our taxes’

The association produced a bunch of buttons for indie bookshops to use, while taking a swipe at Amazon.

 

Gandul's 'Come To Romania' ad

Following a Top Gear episode the Romanian newspaper created a print ad (one of a series) to promote tourism.

PaddyPower sticks two fingers up at LOGOC

Another cheeky slice of advertising from PaddyPower, which creates ads in response to user feedback. In this case, it sponsored an egg and spoon race - among other events - in London, France. 

Other brands decided to bend LOGOC's draconian rules too...

Oddbins

Formal Focus Wear

Credit: @tompsk

Pepsi’s response to #CokeChase

Here's Pepsi having fun at Coke's expense... so much for 'don't mention the competition'.

LEGO’s feelgood factor

Check out LEGO’s response to this email from an 11-year old. You might file this under customer service, though good service makes for great marketing, especially when the customer (or his Dad) tweets about it. It generated a lot of positive sentiment, and made the ITV News 'and finally' slot. Agile marketing? In a roundabout way, yes. 

Greggs protests the ‘pasty tax’

The Greggs CEO rocked up to Westminster for a spot of protesting, which led to widespread coverage.

Morrison’s free hot or cold sausage roll giveaway

The supermarket chain also jumped on the 'pasty tax' news story by placing a voucher in The Sun. 

Sainsbury’s rebrands Tiger Bread

Another heartwarming tale, following a letter to the supermarket from a three-year old with excellent observational skills.

The supermarket also knows how to have fun on Twitter.

Newcastle Brown Ale vs Stella Artois

Its 'no bollocks' ad campaign pokes fun at a rival's mealy-mouthed sloganeering.

Kellogg’s creates a new cereal brand

Tim Burgess made an offhand remark on Twitter featuring one of the worst phrases uttered in living memory, and the cereal manufacturer launched a new brand. Well, kind of...

Old Spice

In what remains a remarkable campaign, Old Spice rapidly created almost 200 videos based around questions it solicited on social media sites.  

Golden Wonder

This is a bonus example, the 27th, as I spotted it just after I published this post. It's from Golden Wonder, which has responded within three hours to the news that the Pope is to resign. Marvelllous!

If you have seen examples of ultra-fast marketing then be sure to leave a comment below!

Chris Lake

Published 11 February, 2013 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

582 more posts from this author

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Nick Stamoulis

I love the Audi vs. Mercedes billboards. I think it's a great way to get people thinking about both brands (and have a good laugh at the competition's expense). I like that the quick thinking attitude of social media is moving offline.

over 3 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Hi Nick - me too, though the BMW/Audi advertising spat is from about four or five years ago, I think. The oldest example on here. A classic battle between creatives...

over 3 years ago

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Sam Brown

Whilst I'm not a product manager/dev/scrum master, and my knowledge of Agile amounts to a one day course, isn't this more reactive marketing?

As an aside, I'd say agile can be adapted to marketing. Not sure exactly how and it wouldn't be 'pure' agile...I'll leave that to someone far clever than myself.

over 3 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Hey Sam,

Yes, it's all based upon being reactive, but you need the right team structure / process / workflow & brainstorming tools / radars in place if you want to do this kind of thing well, which is what agile marketing is all about.

It's not just the speed of reaction / idea generation / execution that matters, but whether you can make the most of these opportunities on a consistent basis, and to do that you need the right set-up. That's the bit I'm keen to explore further, as I think the more forward-thinking brands are heading in that direction.

over 3 years ago

Jennifer Smith

Jennifer Smith, Product Leader, Consumer Engagement at MasterCard

Yes, I am also curious about the structures, resources and processes that allow for this sort of quick turnaround - from idea to implementation. It is something many companies struggle with - the right balance of process and efficiency.

over 3 years ago

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Paul Allen

Interesting - at first I was going to post something similar to Sam Brown, in that this appears more 'reactive' than agile, however Chris Lake's point is a very good one in that reactive marketing wouldn't be possible without the right setup - a setup more akin to agile delivery that one bogged down in the types of planning and resourcing issues many agencies are trying hard to overcome.

I think it is worth noting though that, in my experience anyway, it's as important for the client to be agile as it is for the agency. From a monetary perspective for instance, if they're on some kind of retainer, or have budgetary reserves to use for such reactive marketing, then it's possible to work with them in this way. If they're the type of organisation who need to wade through red tape to get budgets signed off for individual campaigns / developments etc. though, then a reactive / agile approach might not be possible with them.

over 3 years ago

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Chris Gilfoy, Head of Digital at Ovo Energy

Is it just me that all the images are down on this post for? Really keen to have a look through.

Ta.

over 3 years ago

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Ricardo Molina, Director at BrightBull B2B Marketing

Fantastic post. My favourites were the Audi and BMW and the Virgin Media.

In line with Paul's comment, I think that both client and agency need to be agile. The red tape and procedural craziness in a B2B environment make these sort of campaigns more likely reserved for the B2C environment.

Anyone seen good examples in the B2B context? I have not seen many out there.

over 3 years ago

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, Soupbowl AB

Whether reactive or not, a key principle of Agile (whether development or marketing) is to be test-driven. It's not just about reacting to change or opportunity, it's about test, launch, learn and optimise. I agree with Paul Allen's comment about the need for clients to be agile - not just when it comes to budget approvals, but also when it comes to concept approvals. Being agile means getting the consumers, rather than management, to "approve" the concept. This can be one of the most difficult aspects of Agile for clients and agencies to swallow. We're still overrun by HIPPOs on both sides of the client/agency fence. Although it doesn't cover all of the "structures, resources and processes" that underpin agile marketing, I would recommend downloading Valtech's white paper on the subject. Or check out Scott Brinker's Agile Marketing in a single white board sketch.

over 3 years ago

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Maria Lacher, Marketing Executive at Valtech

The Marketing discipline as a whole needs to be reconsidered in the digital age. Marketers now must meet the needs of the new digital consumer in a rapidly changing world and therefore now needs to be faster to be relevant. "As the world has moved online, the distance between companies and customers has collapsed to zero" is a quote of Valtech's Agile Marketing white paper http://ow.ly/hBKDj

over 3 years ago

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Olivier van Vollenhoven, Associate Director at Realtime.co

This is where real-time marketing and technology come into play. You must predefine the bandwidth in which your marketeers can operate and then give them the right tools and processes to act in real-time. Strike while the iron is still hot, the more time you take the smaller the impact..

over 3 years ago

Daniel Phillips

Daniel Phillips, E-Commerce Manager at HJ Hall

Paddy Power have displayed their agility once again.

They've priced Richard Dawkins at 666/1 to be the next Pope!

:)

over 3 years ago

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Tammy

Virgin & Paddy Power hilarious!!!
Agile: haven't agencies been doing this for years??.... How is this new?

over 3 years ago

Alex Whittaker

Alex Whittaker, Business Consultant at DigitasLBi

Some great examples - the Audi and BMW is a bit too good to be true though - the first photo is real but the second one with the blimp is photoshopped - there only ever were two billboards. Though it could still be seen as an example of agile marketing as the "Your pawn is no match for our king" billboard in the foreground is a superimposed image created through a competition Audi ran on Facebook.

http://www.autointhenews.com/bmw-vs-audi-billboard-wars-a-battle-of-ad-budgets/

I agree with the comment that a lot of these examples are reactionary rather than truly being rapid or agile - if we're going to reach a definition of rapid response marketing it should probably be along the lines of activities which respond to a fast moving news story or event whilst that event is still happening or has very recently happened - so the Superbowl and horse meat examples are rapid response, the Sainsbury's and Lego ones are more about clever customer relationship management, and the Paddy Power Olympics one is just plain old advertising.

Another interesting area using rapid response techniques is politics, especially the US election campaign where the campaigns tried to capitalise on changing events and opponent gaffes immediately.

over 3 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Alex - That's the worst 'it isn't real' news I've heard since I found out that the Leroy Jenkins video was faked (albeit based on a real event).

over 3 years ago

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Ash Nallawalla

I have been at both sides of Agile and think it lets down the customer if the project gets descoped. No wonder tech teams think it's great.

over 3 years ago

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Amit Mehta, Business Development Manager at SevDotCom

Here's another great one between airlines.. Jet, Kingfisher and Go Air!

http://cms.mumbaimirror.com/portalfiles/28/44/200908/Image/2009-08-29/08-3.jpg

about 3 years ago

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