Urgent Genius is a philosophy that describes the trend of real-time and rapid-response marketing with newsjacking as its lead tactic. It acknowledges the time pressures of our turbo-charged world and asks the question, "How can you be both fast and brilliant?
Jon Burkhart coined the phrase at the end of 2009 and together with Grant Hunter, they created the urgentgenius.com blog at iris Worldwide. Over the last three years the blog has trawled the planet for the very best examples. During that time it has uncovered brands, agencies and individuals who use a wide range of real-time and rapid response tactics to create ideas that tap into popular culture.
Hunter and Burkhart have just published their first book with publishers Thames & Hudson titled: Newsjacking – The Urgent Genius of real-time advertising. The phrase ‘Newsjacking’ was made popular by American PR strategist David Meerman Scott in 2011. Scott notes that the term was first coined in the UK with the Urgent Genius team being one of the first to focus on it as an emerging trend in early 2010.
People are used to having search delivered in real-time, video on demand, news the second it happened, instant updates on their friends’ status and their shopping delivered to their door overnight.
Topical advertising per se is nothing new. It’s been going on since the Mad Men days, and a well-written ad with a witty headline can still deliver. But what is new is the exponential increase in the power of the technology we now have at our fingertips. It’s imperative that brands understand how tech is changing the way people are living their lives. People are used to having search delivered in real-time, video on demand, news the second it happened, instant updates on their friends’ status and their shopping delivered to their door overnight. The world is used to getting everything ‘Now’.
Today, everything has been turbo charged. We can now do things far more swiftly and more efficiently than we could before. From a creative stand point we have an arsenal of digital tools that allow us to stay up all night, code and design a microsite.
Give us 24 hours and we can generate amazing video content. Or if you can only give us a few minutes, we’ll generate a brilliant Photoshop comp and then post it on a social network. 3D printing and the phenomenon that is Arduino and Raspberry Pi have made it possible to create working prototypes in a matter of days. Contextual ad buys and real-time analytics allow us to pivot and adjust our creative approach on the fly.
There is a downside to this frantic new world. It’s easy to fall into the trap of pumping out rubbish – it’s quick but it’s not clever. Look at how much video gets uploaded to YouTube - 72 hours of video every minute. If you’re going to stand out, then your output has to be Genius.
In the first half of 2013, "newsjacking" went mainstream due to the success of Oreo during the Super Bowl. Their rapid response to the power outage demonstrated the effectiveness of clever, quick creativity and the potential rewards for acting in an urgent and genius manner. In this report we will look at a number of global case studies and highlight the key principles for marketers looking to adopt an Urgent Genius mindset.
How can brands apply the Urgent Genius philosophy
Urgent Genius is a philosophy that any one can adopt but few have mastered. Here are a few tips to consider if you’re thinking of diving in:
1. Don’t hijack - ride the wave
Go "culture surfing" and ride the wave of a story or trend rather than aggressively hijacking it. Brands should look to find the right, most relevant break to ride.
2. Streamline the approval processes
Build trusted relationships between agency and client, everyone needs to be part of the team if you want to get the rapid approvals you need.
3. Live and breathe culture
Use real-time listening tools to gauge the social sentiment and identify the passion points that make people tick.
4. Define the brand’s cultural DNA
What does the brand stand for? What’s its personality? What bits of culture match this profile?
6. Find out where brand DNA and the audience’s interests overlap
Find out what your audience is into and determine what themes match the brand’s cultural DNA
7. Look for the Urgent source of content for an audience and re-work it to be Genius.
What websites are the first to feed your fans with the content they crave? How can you improve on it making it more shareable, audio-visual and/or interactive?
8. Identify the influencers
Ask yourself who is your most active advocate and who has the most influence in the area you’re playing in?
9. Plan your spontaneity
Create bespoke cultural calendars for the brand so that you are aware of potential cultural events where the brand has a right to be.
10. Think before pressing the button
Ask yourself is this really Genius, is it relevant to the brand and what are the potential negative pitfalls?