Newsjacking. The process of linking your brand to topical news stories with the aim of generating media attention. Done well it can be amusing, poignant, and an effective way of spreading positive brand awareness. Done badly however, and it can be forced, awkward and even offensive.
It’s a tall order to get newsjacking right, so we’ve rounded up 6 brands that are leading the way.
1. KitKat and #bendgate
Remember when the iPhone 6 Plus came out and people across the globe were accidentally bending them by putting them in their back pockets? Whilst the tech world was busy debating this usability flaw, KitKat were quick to jump on the news with an amusing tweet. The sly dig at Apple is funny without being too harsh, and the prominent featuring of KitKat’s product cleverly reinforces the brand. The huge amount of engagement garnered with this example of newsjacking – some 26,150 retweets and 13,022 likes – proves that KitKat got their humorous response just right.
2. Refuge and The Archers storyline
The relationship between a fictional couple on BBC Radio 4’s The Archers doesn’t exactly sound like a traditional leading news story to capture the public’s interest. However, the show made headlines earlier this year due to the realistic and shocking portrayal of domestic violence within a key storyline. In response, The Archers consulted Refuge, the charity working to prevent domestic violence and support those suffering from it, to assist with the story. Seeing the opportunity, Refuge took this involvement one step further by newsjacking at every opportunity.
By sharing info and links on social whilst the Archers was live and trending, Refuge was able to engage and educate fans of the show, as well as encourage celebrity influencers to get involved. All of this led to a 17% increase in calls to Refuge during February, and ‘The Helen Titchener (nee Archer) Rescue Fund’ JustGiving page being set up. It has raised over £170,000 so far. Refuge showed that through a well-considered charity communications strategy, and a keen eye for newsjacking, you can drive significant results.
3. Norwegian and Brangelina
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie split recently and the world wept. But Hollywood’s power couple featuring heavily in the news offered a huge opportunity to brands with a flair for newsjacking. Norwegian took a cheeky approach to the news by advertising their flights to Brad’s home city, jokily linking to his newly-single status. A Norwegian spokesperson commented that “we have used a playful advert to simply highlight our flights to Los Angeles and to mirror the conversations that people throughout the UK are having about a high-profile media story. We are pleased that the vast majority of feedback has been positive and people have read the advert with the humour it was intended.”
4. Dunkin’ Donuts and #TheDress
In 2015, the world went mad over a dress, unsure of whether it was black and blue or white and gold. This enthralling piece of news was jumped on by many brands across the world, with varying degrees of success. One brand who did get it right, however, was Dunkin’ Donuts, reacting quickly to the trending discussion by creating the two delicious doughnuts in the tweet above. They successfully included themselves in the online discussion and got more than 3,000 users to retweet their products across Twitter.
5. Muncie Animal Shelter and the Pokémon GO craze
Over the past few months, Pokémon GO has dominated news stories and become an established reference across popular culture. The augmented reality game requires a large amount of walking, which Muncie Animal Shelter have cleverly capitalised on by launching a volunteer program called “Pokémon Dogs” on social media. As part of the campaign, the shelter encouraged Pokémon players to combine their hunting with walking the shelter’s dogs. The Facebook post has over 10,000 reactions, 28,860 shares and has purportedly led to hundreds of dog walkers taking part in the scheme.
6. Snickers and #LuisSuarez
Luis Suarez made headlines in 2014’s Football World Cup when he bit another Italian football player. Social media users and brands were quick to reference the football star online, but no one did it quite as well as Snickers. The brand’s famous tagline is ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’. Snickers managed to reference this slogan, use a compelling and bespoke product image, skillfully poke fun at the footballer, all whilst using optimum hashtags. With 44,000 retweets and 20,000 likes, the tweet was extremely well-received on social media.
Seen some great examples of newsjacking in digital marketing we've not included in this blog? Let us know in the comments.