The marketing industry has been struggling to keep pace with culture for years, but with the advent of real-time marketing, it seems that marketers have found a solution to the problem.

What is real-time marketing?

A proven guerrilla marketing strategy, real-time marketing (RTM) links into current events that are relevant to an audience, in an attempt to engage them with a brand. The ultimate goal is to connect consumers with the products they need now, in the moment, and it’s an approach to marketing that’s better suited for today’s on-the-go audiences.

Here we take a look at three examples of real-time marketing and the lessons that can be learned from each.

1.     Warburtons

The best RTM campaigns stay relevant to their marketing strategy, audience, and products. Following the birth of Prince George last year, there were plenty of attempts to cash in on Royal Baby fever, but this advert from Warburton’s stood out as one of the best to capture the mood, while staying relevant to the company’s products and sense of Britishness.

The lesson here is that brands should focus on getting the content of their message right, rather than simply getting it out there quickly – ‘right time’ may be a far more appropriate term than ‘real-time’, as an emphasis on the right content will add long-term value to your brand.


2.     American Red Cross

Real-time marketing isn’t just about responding to opportunities, but also to crises, as the American Red Cross have demonstrated. The charity responds to humanitarian disasters in real time through its Digital Operations Centre, offering information to victims and marshalling public support via social media. A tweet they posted after the 2010 Haiti earthquake raised some $33 million.


The Red Cross is also quick to respond to its own internal crises. In 2011, after a staff member accidentally posted a message about getting drunk to the official @RedCross account, the organization followed up with this note: “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.”

3.     NASA

What if you’re not just reacting to the news but making it? In general, brands are hit-and-miss at promoting their own newsworthy content, but NASA mastered it with their @MarsCuriosity Twitter account, which was written from the point of view of the rover itself. It is a trove of witty, personable content—much of it translating in real time, scientific data from the rover for a mass audience.


Hotcow is a non-traditional creative agency that specialises in experiential marketing that goes viral. Our campaigns generate buzz through crowd participation, PR and content sharing. Contact us on 0207 5030442 or email us on