How to Plan for Opportunistic Marketing and Your Own Oreo Moment

It will be a long time before anyone forgets Super Bowl ’13 when Oreo had their spotlight moment thanks to momentary darkness in the stadium There have been other brands, before their time and since then, who have leveraged an opportunity to position their brand in just the right way, at just the right moment, but Oreo has set the gold standard for real time marketing.

Opportunistic marketing can happen accidentally and often does, but you don’t need to rely on or wait for luck to strike to get your own moment in the spotlight. Before the concept of real time marketing took off, planning for opportunistic moments may have been perceived as being phony (because you can’t pre-plan authentic responses to outside events, right?). That the Oreo moment was a spontaneous reaction in the moment didn’t matter to the consumer (although marketers around the world were seriously impressed with their creativity on the fly).

Planned opportunistic marketing can be just as authentic as any other marketing tactic or message. But better! Let me tell you why.

If your company sells ice cream in a cool climate, you know there’s going to be the first 90-degree day of the year, which is cause to celebrate with a cold treat. Olympic sponsors know there will always be the first US gold medal of the event, but they don’t know when, what sport or by which athlete.

You don’t know in advance when these events will take place, but you know they will happen. It’s practically inevitable. Marketers who can respond to these events immediately in a relevant, authentic way get attention and their audience will share their content. Preparing for these opportunistic moments ahead of time means that you can be strategic and more creative with your content – unlike other companies who have to be reactive.

Opportunistic Marketing Examples

Here are four real-world examples where companies leveraged an opportunity in ways that could be planned for.


Richard Branson is a known supporter of gay marriage so it makes sense that his company would speak out in support of the legalization of gay marriage. And they did so in a very appropriate way for their market and service.


During the Oscar Awards show of 2014, Pharrell’s hat was all the talk on Twitter. It didn’t take long for the Arby’s team to jump on the bandwagon and claim the hat as theirs after seeing others refer to his hat as such.


This one would have been difficult to predict but when the Olympic torch flame went out at the Sochi 2014, Zippo responded with a clever response using the hashtag #ZippoSavesOlympic. This image was removed from Facebook after a call from Olympic Officials, but their quick initial response was clever and earned attention.


Here’s another example from the Oscar Awards – but it’s actually a poor example of opportunistic marketing. Oscar Meyer knows that the award show that shares their name comes around each year and chances are high that people will be talking on twitter. Given a 364-day lead time, they could have been more creative and tied into the award show.


Here’s how to prepare for opportunistic moments without the big brand budgets, resources and time:

  1. Know your audience well. If you know what is important to your ideal customers, immerse yourself to learn about events, topics and related areas that are relevant to their interests and passions. Using the examples above, Virgin Holiday clearly knows their audience well and made their content relevant to the audience, their brand and the topic.
  2. Identify the events that are relevant to your product or service. Is it weather related, seasonal, or connected to another activity? Think about the outside influences that positively impact your business for clues.
  3. Brainstorm ideas for each event. Be strategic about how you will authentically connect the event to your brand, and be creative in your delivery. Remember that in being opportunistic, the clever and unique content will get the most attention.
  4. Put it in the can. Get your content, assets and approvals ready-to-go in advance so that you don’t need to jump through hoops when your moment comes (but keep track of it so you don’t forget you have it).
  5. Review and improve it. When your moment arrives, give the content another review to make sure that it’s still relevant and creative, meeting all of the criteria for your current brand filters and strategy.
  6. Stay in the moment. Don’t just put it out there and walk away. If you’ve done your job well, people will engage and expect you to as well.

You can scale this up or down based on your company and situation. The point here is that being opportunistic doesn’t require having a social media manager sitting on Twitter, waiting for a trending topic to hit that is relevant to your business. Save some resources and allow for creativity by planning ahead.