Real-Life Reactvertising: 3 Ways to Boost Your Trend-Based Marketing on Social


Tessa Wegert

Reactvertising is the art of responding as quickly as possible to news and current events in an effort to stay top-of-mind with consumers.

Reactvertising. It’s been called “the new agency model” and it’s really the only way for brands to market in a fast-paced world. As explained in a new series of videos, reactvertising is not about being funny or smart, but responding as quickly as possible with a constant stream of up-to-the-second content tied to news stories, natural disasters, celebrity deaths, and hit songs.

The videos are, of course, satire, creating by Toronto-based creative agency John St. That said, there’s some truth to the notion that brands now have to go to extremes in order to stay relevant. We should never sacrifice quality in the interest of getting a post up fast. We can’t predict what’s coming before it arrives. But we can, and should, react.

Last week we examined the advantages of tapping into news trends with real-time marketing. There are other ways to join consumer conversations and make your social media feed more germane. Let’s take a look.

Share in the Fun of Pop Culture Trends

The arrival of November means the launch of Dinovember, an event – and parenting philosophy – created by Refe and Susan Tuma in 2012. One night they staged a scene in their home of toy dinosaurs getting up to mischief. Their children believed the creatures had come to life, and the couple has been carrying on the tradition every since. “Why do we do this? Because in the age of iPads and Netflix, we don’t want our kids to lose their sense of wonder and imagination,” Refe Tuma wrote on Medium last year.

Countless parents are now participating in Dinovember for the benefit of their own children. Brands are doing it to show their playful side and create interesting social content for fans. Intel first posted about Dinovember in mid-October with an image of some dinos and its Galileo Development Board, which it has also been promoting on Vine.

In London, marketing agency Kindred plans to post Dinovember scenes on Twitter. “Forget Christmas / Easter / your birthday. ‪#Dinovember‬‬‬ is here. This lot will be running riot at Kindred HQ all month,” the company said.

When a brand embraces a well-loved pop culture trend the results can be charming – if the brand respects the trend’s integrity rather than uses it to pander to the crowd. Both Intel and Kindred’s tweets recognize the trend’s roots in creativity. As both companies offer products and services that allow for imaginative play (albeit it of a grown-up variety), leveraging Dinovember makes perfect sense.

Riff on a Hashtag Craze

The trick to a successful trend-based campaign is to pick the right trend. How can a brand know which trending hashtag to jump on and which to avoid? It’s a matter of good sense. On Monday morning#AlexFromTarget, a baffling but inoffensive celebration of a Target employee, trended nationwide. The photo and related hashtag may or may not be a viral marketing experiment perpetrated by a start-up, but one thing was clear from the start: the trend was benign. Given its immense popularity, that was all the invitation brands needed to get involved. Target responded with a visual tweet. So did Blue Man Orlando, the Blue Man Group troupe at Universal Orlando Resort.

In Target’s case, the trend created for the retailer a golden opportunity to underscore its appreciation of its staff. And Blue Man Group? While one might argue that the tweet felt forced, the brand managed to create a visual connection between the hashtag and the contents of its show. Couple that with Blue Man Orlando’s established history of contributing to trending content (a week prior it tweeted a photo tied to another current pop culture event), and the tweet reads as a relevant way to let potential customers know Blue Man Group is all about entertainment.

Participate in Unusual Holidays

Cheese Day? Macaroni Day? National Eating Healthy Day? They all exist, and while only some were created by brands, all represent a promotional opportunity online. According to Wikipedia, the U.S. has more than 175 days “related to awareness of food or drink.” Subway made good use of #NationalSandwichDay earlier this week by updating its Twitter and Facebook cover images and posting themed photos and videos to its social media accounts.


When other brands, like Zagat and Smithsonian Magazine, also used the trending tag on Twitter, Subway replied with a comment. Over the course of the day the brand continually positioned itself as the authority on sandwiches, staying top of mind for hungry consumers in the process.


The concept of reactvertising may be a bit theatrical, but there are real advantages to framing social media content in a way that mirrors current news. Just steer clear of those celebrity deaths.