Are You Building Nimbleness into Your Marketing Plan?

In 2013, when the lights went out on the Super Bowl, advertising’s biggest stage was upstaged by a single tweet from Oreo. Imagine the shock from the huge brands who had spent millions of dollars for 30 seconds of fame when Oreo stole all the buzz with a single, well-timed tweet. Nobody could have predicted a blackout during the Super Bowl. But because Oreo was prepared and had a marketing infrastructure capable of responding quickly, they won.



Sometimes you can build out the most well-crafted marketing plan, account for every budget dollar, target every brand impression and report every scrap of measurable analytic and then, BAM! An opportunity arises or an idea sparks that you just can’t afford to pass up. Executed right, it may have the impact to overshadow everything else you are doing. Nobody remembers the Oreo ad that actually ran in that same Super Bowl. But they do remember that tweet.


Remember the eclipse earlier this year? Of course you do. The media was obsessed with it for a couple weeks. Millions of Americans traveled thousands of miles to see this once-in-a-lifetime event. But just prior to that, millions of YouTube viewers (more than 2 million) also saw the “Banana Sun Announcement” and the lead-up teasers from Chiquita. Yes, a banana brand cleverly made itself relevant to one of the most talked about events of the year.



A brand awareness campaign connected to a rare event like an eclipse isn’t something that nicely fits into a strategic marketing plan. But it was probably more memorable for the 2+ million viewers who saw it than any other Chiquita Banana marketing effort made this year (in fact, I can’t recall ANY other Chiquita Banana marketing over the past 10 years besides the little labels on the bananas themselves).


Think this was something that was planned in the marketing war room of Chiquita bananas when they were putting together their marketing strategy for the next year. Maybe. But more than likely, it was something that was dreamt up a few months before, when a casual conversation between friends or coworkers turned to the topic of somebody taking vacation days to travel to see the full eclipse.


But these opportunities don’t just result from an unpredictable mishap or natural event. They can even result from something the competition is doing.


For example, what happens when you realize that World Peace Day is almost upon you and there is an initiative to encourage competing brands to come together for just one day in the name of peace? Well, if you’re Burger King, you punch up and offer to cooperate with your largest competitor to create the McWhopper. But if you’re McDonald’s and you’re caught off guard you come out with a less-than-friendly response from the CEO. Guess who got the positive attention (and media)?




The best ideas don’t always align neatly within marketing budgets and plans. Sometimes they are sparked by unique opportunities. Sometime they arise out of things your competitors are (or are not) doing. Sometimes they are just great ideas that evolved outside of the annual marketing strategy planning window.


It’s great to have a well-conceived marketing plan that provides the backbone for your overall strategy. But while everyone else is striving to cruise control their marketing plans through marketing automation, it’s often the crazy ideas that come up at the wrong time and don’t fit “the plan” that are the ones that make the biggest impact. If you don’t have flexibility and nimbleness in your marketing plan along with budgets, analytics and schedules, you could be missing some big opportunities.


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