One of the characteristics of the modern marketer outlined in our recent Modern Marketing Manifesto is agility. The ability to be responsive and adaptive. To be flexible and embrace change.

The concept of agile marketing has grown from the need to try and deal with a more fluid marketing environment, driven largely by digital, and has borrowed from the principles of agile software development.

The latter values “individuals and interactions over processes and tools; working software over comprehensive documentation; customer collaboration over contract negotiation; responding to change over following a plan”.

The current poster-child case study for agile marketing is Oreo. During the 34 minute blackout in the last Super Bowl the Oreo team managed to turn around a tweet, “You can still dunk in the dark”, that was retweeted more than 15,000 times within 14 hours.

What is interesting here is less the creative and more the fact that there were the marketing resources and processes (including, for example, sign off on any such ‘campaign’) to respond to something that was not planned and out of office hours. 

You see this agility in evidence particularly at the nexus of marketing, PR and social media. In some cases this is to avert, or capitalise on, potentially damaging communications.

Lynx was recently cited as the favourite fragrance of a 'character' in Channel 4’s Dogging Tales documentary.

The following day Lynx’s agency team at TMW reacted with a spoof picture and tweet that seized the opportunity not only to diffuse a situation that might otherwise have become awkward but which also showcased the humorous and slightly irreverent nature of the brand itself. 

Lynx dogging tales

Bodyform achieved something very similar in its creative and amusing “CEO” video response when Richard Neill posted on Bodyform’s Facebook page accusing the brand of lying about the true nature of periods through its advertising.

Richard’s critical post gained 20,000 Likes but Bodyform’s response, turned around within just four days, became the most viewed video in UK, and the most viewed entertainment content in the world, on 18th October last year.

On the PR/social side we’ve also seen a resurgence of 'news-jacking' or ‘meme-jacking’ as an agile way to piggyback popular and topical content or news.

Marketing Gangnam-style. The Harlem Shake, another ‘dance’ created originally by a man in Rucker Park, Harlem, in the 1980s has become a global internet sensation three decades later with various organisations picking it up in turn to create their own versions.

Whilst this marketing agility is not a new concept, the growth in ‘always on’ and ‘two-way’ digital channels is focusing marketing functions to decide how to address it and how to deliver on agility. 

The 70:20:10 rule

To borrow another popular concept, I would suggest thinking 70:20:10 makes sense. 70% of your marketing is the planned ‘marketing as usual’ activity. 20% of your marketing should be programmatic.

I described this in more depth in a previous article but it is marketing that is more rules-driven and automated in response to various stimuli; so it is not planned, but it is responsive, and, typically, machine-driven and executed.

10% of your marketing is purely responsive Oreo-style. For this you typically need people resource available.

To deliver on that 10% you still need the right systems and processes in place. For example, you need the correct alerting mechanisms, feeds and ‘listening’ configured across your channels, most obviously social media, to ensure you know when a response is required or opportunity has arisen.

You then need the right people and talent to respond. Adidas has recently set up a team dedicated to such response as part of its ‘moments of celebration and acknowledgement’ strategy. Numerous agencies have built such capabilities to offer to their clients in the last year or so. 

Our Modern Marketing Manifesto not only talks about agility as a characteristic required of marketers today. It has Technology and Creative as two of its key constituents.

To deliver smart, and effective, agile marketing you absolutely need to apply both technology and creativity.

Ashley Friedlein

Published 24 June, 2013 by Ashley Friedlein @ Econsultancy

Ashley Friedlein is Founder of Econsultancy and President of Centaur Marketing. Follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (7)

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A absolutely great article. I've recently undertaken a position as a community manager and trying to implement RTM and crisis management for each brand I'm responsible for is still something I'm wrangling with but after seeing the great examples from these brands, especially Bodyform, I see its a skill that has to be honed and continually developed to truly be great at it!

about 5 years ago


Fernando Rivero

The real time 24/7 marketing is here to stay, as long as the customers have the power to connect and interact, positive or negative, through social media, whenever they want.

The new marketer, fully and well described in the manifesto, has to be prepared quickly to this environment change, or we will see lots of reputation crisis in the coming years.

As always, great post Ashley.

about 5 years ago



And herein lies the great problem with Marketing - too much thinking.

How long will it take for this industry to realise it is falling by the wayside because it does not react fast enough?

Year long campaigns, planned to the nth degree? what's the point?

about 5 years ago

Nichola Finan

Nichola Finan, digital marketing at Media-input

...and how much planning can be done for the unexpected situation, that can be turned into an opportunity - probably more than you at first think is possible??

about 5 years ago



Great article. If agile is working so well across other areas in digital production then of course why wouldn't it work well for digital marketing too! I'm a big fan of getting things launched and tweaking, rather than waiting till perfect, otherwise you might wait forever. Gives you a faster reaction time and gets teams into a proactive mindset.

about 5 years ago


Matt Reid, Web developer at

I liked the article, however, I think the use of the term 'agile' as borrowed from software development is a bit of misnomer here.

Agile software development is characterised by delivering a product in stages, whereas agile marketing is characterised by delivering a finished campaign quickly (i.e. less than 24 hours).

about 5 years ago


karolos pregkler, social media manager at bbdo

Great article! I was wondering which are the tools that you use in your routine to check and stay alerted for events and news..

over 3 years ago

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