Opportunities abound for those who think fast and act faster

5 Feb
Margaret Thatcher leaving office for the last time

Mrs T calls it quits after Conservative party mutiny.


In 1990, after 11 years of iron-fisted rule as Britain’s PM, Margaret Thatcher was challenged within the Conservative party for the leadership. Her political capital all but spent, she failed to win her first-ballot nomination outright, and so bowed out of the race and the Prime Minister’s office.

A few hours after the announcement, the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong carried a full-page ad for Nescafe Instant Coffee (that’s how we rolled back then folks). There was a pack shot plus a big headline that read:

“At least there’s one thing that won’t leave a bitter taste in her mouth.”

It generated Nescafe, and our ad agency, mountains of buzz.

We had the idea the day before the vote, and had to have to 2 ads ready, one in anticipation of her actually winning. It was a big spend for the client and an exciting night.

The marketing minds at Oreo demonstrated a similar clear-headed attention to their surroundings on Sunday when they tweeted this during the Super Bowl blackout.

Black out superbowl tweet from Oreo

Clicking on the link took you to this image.

Oreo's blackout  ad

I love how fast they reacted and responded.  There was no way to plan for the blackout, so this ad was no doubt in the can already. But someone, somewhere had the antennae up and jumped at this opportunity.

This is advertising at its best: fast on your feet, opportunistic, relevant.

What did the tweet cost? Relatively nothing. And the return on that investment was incalculable attention during a moment when everyone was, like a San Francisco receiver, wide open.

The Brand Interventionist Recommends

Put Opportunism on your business’s Monday morning agenda and remind everyone in your company that anyone can come up with the big idea that links what you do with what’s going on outside.

If you’re not looking for it, you’re going to miss it.

With an instant gratification platform like Twitter, your fun idea can generate buzz as fast as you can come up with it.

There are dangers here too, but that’s for the next post!


(Mrs. Thatcher image courtesy The Telegraph)


6 Responses to “Opportunities abound for those who think fast and act faster”

  1. Terrance Lam (@kinematicdigit) February 5, 2013 at 8:15 am #

    Love ads that are responsive to current trends and events. Of course with social media these days it’s much easier react instantly. It certainly is much better than their official ad they aired during the Super Bowl.

    Here’s the Oreo one that I found kind of flat:

    I found most of the official ads pretty disappointing though, the rest:

    • Doug Brown February 5, 2013 at 8:36 am #

      Owned media + earned media vs. paid media. David vs. Goliath. This should give heart to small advertisers everywhere. It’s all about the idea! Thanks for the comment and the links Terry.

  2. hill copywriting February 5, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    It reminds of what a biz school prof once said — “There are two kinds of managers: The quick and the dead.” Works even better in advertising 🙂

    • Doug Brown February 5, 2013 at 10:02 am #

      Hey that would make a cool film title Baz! It does pretty much sum up life in advertising these days….

  3. beloved brands February 10, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

    Just like sports, marketing is all about time and space. Make the most of it and you score. Love what Oreo did in this year’s super bowl black out. Very small idea,but a very big window of opportunity that they filled. Not the most earth shattering idea, just taking advantage of the time and space.

    • Doug Brown February 11, 2013 at 4:29 am #

      Good call Graham. Not a huge idea, but a smart one. The excllence was in the timing. Getting positive attention through advertising is not always about the ad. Sometimes the best thinking goes into other factors in the delivery of it to the consumer.

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