Topical ads and #BreakTheInternet

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Topical ads have been around for decades now and can be a marketer’s dream come true – but only if executed well. In my view, the hallmarks of a great topical ad are: (a) it should be about a genuinely big news…a topic that is truly creating buzz (b) it should be out lightning fast when the topic is still fresh in people’s mind (c) the creative message should be relevant to the product – link it to the brand’s proposition in a clever way and (d) executed with some subtlety and class. The last one is subjective of course, but one can easily spot an idea which is crass or trying-too-hard to find a fit. Amul’s topical hoardings have been hugely popular in India for these reasons.

What Veet did when Obama came to power in the US was top notch – it had everything: speed, relevance and subtle, biting humour. Aside from unexpected events which become news (like the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland) there are calendar events like April Fools Day which attract topical advertising – see here and here.

In this context, digital platforms create more pressure for both marketers and advertisers. There are thousands of trends globally and keeping track of what is capturing the imagination of people is difficult. Speed of response has to match today’s ground reality too – everything happens in seconds. Calendar events like Super Bowl and unplanned events in politics & sports have attracted brand messaging capitalising on the opportunity. Kim Kardashian’s #BreakTheInternet had it’s share of brand tweets – most of them were forced and crass, in my view. These were the ones which worked for me – fast, relevant, subtle and brings a smile:

Among print ads, I thought this ad for IKEA from Australia was spot on:

IKEA topical Kim Kardashian

Agency: 303Lowe, Perth

Anything I missed? Do comment in on your views on topical ads and #BreakTheInternet memes.

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