When Haze Becomes A Marketing Strategy
“Wow, today macam Genting,” read the text message that I received from my teammate when the recently-ended haze started early September.
At that point of time, I brushed it off thinking that the haze won’t be around for long. Probably another week at most. It turned out to be a month-long phenomenon of choking on dust particles in the air as we unwillingly breathed it into our lungs. Truly a depressing ambience.
The recent haze occurrence was due to the forests burning in Kalimantan and Sumatra. Schools were closed, health reports escalated, air traffic was affected, and many more repercussions have been reported as a result of the haze.
Mention of the haze was suddenly everywhere – advertisements made sly comments about the haze, companies started talking about the advantages of remote working policy, and brands not in the health industry shared tips about staying healthy despite the air condition outside. There was even a hilarious Spotify playlist with songs symbolising the haze!
All the content above were made so easily available for an average media consumer to engage with; be it talking about them, or sharing them around with others, consequently increasing the visibility of brands of the content producers. Going back to the haze-related content, are all of the content in relation to the haze produced just for fun? Most likely, it’s not. In fact, it’s actually a marketing strategy and it’s simply called Real-time Marketing (RTM).
As defined by Marketing Land, RTM is “when brands and agency marketers react quickly to local, national or global events happening online or offline, in an effort to interject corporate marketing into consumer conversations via social media messaging or boost brand recognition utilizing marketing platforms.”
RTM requires companies to be quick and nimble to be aligned with the trends that are happening either locally or globally. Most times, content needs to be shifted to fit the mood as content creators shuffle around to produce works that respond to how the target audience react to the ongoing situation. You will probably ask, “What’s with all the effort?”.
Firstly, producing RTM content shows that companies are capable to pick up current happenings and empathise with them. Corporates are not made of cold-hearted robots; we are humans just like everyone else! During the haze, we Malaysians went through the same struggles and hardships. Hence, it’s the human connection that makes us feel that we should be sharing ways on how all of us can live better lives. We breathe the same air after all.
Secondly, RTM is a great way to give brands a positive boost. Together with building a positive brand sentiment, creating relatable and useful content will cause consumers to start sharing and spreading this content around their circles. Hence, giving these brands a wider reach without additional cost! When a piece of content does well enough to be shared around like this, it’s known as viral marketing. If done right, people will take notice of the content, and applaud the brand for their responsiveness and savviness towards the situation. An example can be seen below:
A Malaysian royalty made the statement in the photo in the Parliament which tickled many hearts of Malaysians. Nando’s Malaysia jumped at the chance to add its own spin to this and people loved it!
Positive sentiments towards the brand was palpable around social media.