MindFire Communications, Inc.
Leslie Jones and the story of NBC’s real-time marketing success
August 22, 2016 | Inga Rundquist

In today’s digital branding world, speed and agility are decisive competitive advantages. Being able to recognize a marketing opportunity and being able to act on that opportunity quickly can become a game changer for your brand.

The story of NBC and Leslie Jones, SNL cast member and Ghostbusters star, is a great example of a brand doing real-time marketing right.

Here’s what happened.

Shortly after the games began, Jones began tweeting and Snapchatting up a storm of hugely enthusiastic and patriotic photos and videos. In many of them she was decked to the nines in USA gear and the U.S. flag. Her excitement was contagious. She was funny. And before long, the tweets started going viral garnering thousands of retweets and likes.

(Note – some of these updates include NSFW language – you may want to turn down your volume or plug in those speakers!)

It didn’t take long before NBC caught wind of it. What NBC did next was smart. Instead of retweeting her updates and giving her virtual pats on the back, NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell extended an invitation to Jones for her to go down to Rio and join in the network’s coverage.

The offer made headlines before Jones had even had the chance to respond, generating lots of editorial coverage for NBC, undoubtedly setting hearts aflutter among Jones’ fans and followers. Positive brand association for NBC. PR win!

Jones accepted – and of course shared the good news with her Snapchat and Twitter followers:

Shortly after the announcement – and before Jones had even set foot on Brazilian soil – Olympics-branded Snapchat filters started appearing on Jones’ updates. The connection between the brand and the brand ambassador had officially been established.

Jones – now branded by NBC as an Olympics “super fan” – flies down to Rio and starts attending a slew of events, posting updates, videos and photos along the way.

Before long, she starts meeting NBC commentators and Olympic athletes face to face. She goes nuts. She fan-girls it up with everyone she meets. Above all - it still feels genuine. You can tell she is truly excited. Another NBC win. Authenticity is a huge element of branding and there’s no denying Jones obsession and love for the games.

At the end of each day, Jones posts a report on her day to her platform. And looky there, she even has a little “Rio Correspondent” visual to go with it. Clever!

NBC rounds Jones’ visit out with a more formalized segments, including a visit to Ryan Seacrest’s Rio late night show and segments with Mary Carillo.

To top things off, before Jones leaves Rio, she sets in motion a Twitter hashtag campaign in response to reports that Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas was being bullied online: #LOVE4GABBYUSA. (This came on the heels of her experience on Twitter after the Ghostbusters movie launch.) More media coverage. More association with NBC. Another PR win.

So how was this a real-time marketing win for NBC?

First and foremost, it brought a deeply personal (and often hilarious) element to the Olympic viewing experience. I’m the first to admit that I’m a total Olympics junkie. I’m totally hooked. And this comes as no surprise. In contrast to the Super Bowl, the primetime Olympic TV audience is predominantly female.

NBC knows that most women my age (or most everyone for that matter) typically multitask while watching TV. We watch TV with our phones or tablets in our hands and move frequently from TV to phone to TV to phone. We’re probably googling something we saw on TV or checking our social feeds while “watching” a show.

So by taking someone like Jones, who has struck a chord with the audience in the online world, and placing her at the site of the action – the actual location of their TV coverage – they have added a whole new layer to the viewing experience.

I was able to see the swimming or gymnastics events on TV while logging on to Twitter or Snapchat and watch Jones freaking out in the stands cheering on the team. It gave me the ability to experience the Olympics through the eyes of someone who was in genuine awe of it. I could feel the excitement. It was as if we were there with her. I checked her feed every night. And I watched the NBC coverage that contained what she was talking about on Twitter.

This type of real-time marketing approach can work for you, too. It doesn’t matter if you’re a B-to-B, a B-to-C or a non-profit organization. What it takes is an understanding of "real-time” and how instantly things are happening right now.

Be willing to recognize an opportunity to promote your brand and be able to communicate instantly when the time is right. This requires trust and some early planning on your part. But when done right, it will be worth it.


Post a Comment:

Newsletter signup - flames Newsletter signup - envelope