The Dark Arts of Hijack Marketing

Frustrated man wearing balaclava with a gun. Headache concept.
SHARE
THIS



Hijack marketing, ambush marketing, newsjacking or guerrilla marketing – call it what you like – this strategy involves a brand associating itself with an event that already has an existing audience, and leverages this, often without having to dig deep for sponsorship fees.

These audacious tactics go a long way in creating a buzz around a brand, but the seemingly spontaneous, creative genius is not necessarily born in the moment of opportunity.

“It’s a battle for customers’ hearts and minds,” according to TheOneCentre’s John Ford. But it’s a marathon of poker-faced strategy that is going to prime most brands for hijacking success.

Take Oreo’s you can still dunk in the dark tweet; it was the talk of the Super Bowl and was retweeted about 15,000 times during the black out. While the actual power outage wasn’t anticipated, the marketing cleverness behind the hijack was by no means a stab in the dark.

Oreo-Dunk-in-the-dark

Derek Laney, director of product marketing management for Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud says: “If you talk to the folks at Oreo, they’ll tell you that the year wasn’t defined by that moment. Their success had been created throughout the whole year – building a range of content marketing campaigns – they built up this massive proprietary audience on Facebook and Twitter.” It was those social media fans, already engaged, who helped to spread Oreo’s message like wild fire in that moment of darkness.

According to Laney, this type of hijacking is marketing in real time where a brand injects itself into a conversation that’s already taking place. “The advantage is, you’re able to tap into an audience that already exists, for example Snickers was able to capture a moment during the World Cup, just after Luis Suarez had bitten an opponent – [for the third time] – and they came up with you’re not you when you’re hungrywhich was perfectly aligned to the brand, but more importantly, it was adding something to a conversation already in flight,” says Laney.

suarez-snickers-meme

TheOneCentre’s Ford sees hijack marketing as “the ultimate David and Goliath opportunity”.

“It’s when you get brands spending big money, and then you’ve got this piss-taker or equalising commentary that comes in and undermines or follies the other brand,” says Ford.

He uses the example of Nike – not that it’s a small “piss-taking” operation. Nike saw this year’s World Cup in Brazil as the perfect international stage on which to battle Adidas, the official sponsor of the FIFA event in its “Risk Everything” hijack attempt.

“The title Risk Everything lends itself to the very definition of hijack marketing. Nike played off a huge amount of public interest in the World Cup and rode off the big name players that they sponsor (Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Neymar). The tonality of the campaign was quite dark and serious – reflecting the pressure of the game – the epitome of competition, to Risk Everything

Richard Morgan, executive creative director at 303Lowe reflects back to a previous hijacking effort by Nike in 2010. He says: “Nike’s Write The Future ad came out a week before the start of the World Cup which was run exclusively online.” Overnight, the ad received millions of views. Morgans says: “Nike highjacked what should have been Adidas’ shining moment, leaving them floundering around on the backfoot. It was a piece of marketing genius.”

The Nike theme wasn’t only relevant to the players’ attitude, but also to the way it was ambushing the biggest game in the world.

“The average consumer doesn’t really delineate between sponsor and non-sponsor. The average consumer would think Nike was officially involved in some way,” says Ford.

When playing the role of hijacker, there are limitations on displaying logos or advertising near the vicinity of the official sponsor. “Typically what hijackers do is play around the fringes of what can and can’t be done. The brand would have its own legal council looking at it,” explains Ford. “However, authorities can’t control the distribution and sharing of related content online.”

With mobile devices and social media, brands can penetrate any zone virtually – just as Oreo did at the Super Bowl.

Laney says: “Brands are better to focus on how they build their own proprietary audience, while it’s tempting to look at the audience of others and steal a moment from them, over time, building your own audience that you don’t have to rent from others is a better approach.” Whether its via social media or alternate channels, “the more that you own that audience – it’s an asset that you can use for a long period of time versus a moment in time that’s gone immediately afterwards”.

Tom Sanders, head of strategy at PLAY Communications thinks differently. He says: “If such a thing is possible, ‘hijacking’ needs to be reclaimed as a word by the marketing community. Rather than suggesting a cheap and talentless jumping on and stealing off someone else’s work, it should be admired as a bold attempt to embed your brand into culture and the cultural community.”

In priming a brand to pull off the perfect hijack, Ford says: “You need hotly contested markets, with hotly contented customers over hotly contested issues.” He likens the strategy to war. “You don’t hijack a plane without planning it, you might get drunk and try to take the cockpit, but 99 time out of a 100, you’ll be restrained. The planning has to be secret, whoever you’re battling can’t know.”

“Hijack marketing seems to scare many brands because it requires spontaneity and risk-taking, which is exactly why it works. It’s a surprise ‘hijacking’ is even a phenomenon – we only notice it because it seems so spontaneous and risky – it’s exactly what brands generally don’t do,” says Sanders.

“It’s more common than we see, but it’s not always done well. Some of the hijacking happens with a belly laugh in the board room – they’re so insular with their messaging they don’t realise the customer’s don’t get it,” explains Ford.

Avoiding events that don’t align with your brand’s message is a good way to avoid hijacking failure. Laney says: “Creating a good brand hierarchy and understanding the content pillars your brand has – that have been prepared for a long time ensures your audiences are used to that message.” With this in place, you can mitigate risk when injecting a hijacking element into your marketing strategy “and ensure the brand is maintaining its direction”.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Advertising Standards Bureau Aurora Channel 31 Fashion Media Ownership Rinsed

Latest News

The Monkeys Win Open Colleges’ Creative, Shows Off First Work
  • Advertising

The Monkeys Win Open Colleges’ Creative, Shows Off First Work

Open Colleges has appointed The Monkeys as its lead creative agency. Open Colleges, a leader in online learning, has partnered with The Monkeys to reinvigorate its legacy brand. The agency’s first piece of work, brand campaign ‘Everything Could Happen’, launches this week and celebrates Open Colleges’ 125 years in education. Challenging Australians to turn their […]

News Corp To Launch 50 New Titles As Part Of Online-Only Shift
  • Media

News Corp To Launch 50 New Titles As Part Of Online-Only Shift

News corp Australia will launch more than 50 digital-only publications over the next three years, as the company continues to move its publishing business online. Making the announcement in The Australian this morning, News Corp’s national community masthead network editor John McGourty said the move was to ensure readers stay up to date with local news. […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Thinkerbell Snares CHEP’s Ben Shepherd As It Ramps Up Media Offering
  • Advertising
  • Media

Thinkerbell Snares CHEP’s Ben Shepherd As It Ramps Up Media Offering

Ben Shepherd is joining Thinkerbell as its general manager – media. Shepherd joins the independent agency in this newly created role. Shepherd was previously CHEP’s chief media officer and prior to that had worked at PwC in a mangement consulting role. Coming to Thinkerbell will see the reunion of Shepherd and Margie Reid who worked […]

Facebook Weighs Up Political Ad Ban
  • Technology

Facebook Weighs Up Political Ad Ban

Facebook is reportedly considering a ban on political ads ahead of this year’s presidential election in the US, according to Bloomberg. Citing sources familiar with the matter, the reports suggest the potential ban could serve as a way to prevent the spread of misinformation. However, there are also concerns such a move would stop ‘get out […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Sunday TV Wrap: Seven’s Investigation Into The Peter Falconio Murder Proves A Hit
  • Media

Sunday TV Wrap: Seven’s Investigation Into The Peter Falconio Murder Proves A Hit

Further confirmation that viewer’s love a good murder mystery, Seven’s doco into the disputed case of British tourist Peter Falconio who disappeared in the Australian outback in 2001 last night proved a surprise hit. Murder In The Outback posted 1.03 million viewers last night according to OzTAM metro numbers and proved a winner as Seven […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
“It’s An Insult To Satan!” People Are Calling This The Best Press Photo Of Trump Ever!
  • Media

“It’s An Insult To Satan!” People Are Calling This The Best Press Photo Of Trump Ever!

With his bloated face, orange perma tan and ridiculous hair, if the president of the United States is anything, he’s excellent fodder for press photographers. Probably B&T’s favourite story about president Trump and his relationship with the press is that he likes to hold press conferences in front of the presidential helicopter – known as […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Nike Launches New Shoe With AR-Powered Colouring Book Via AKQA
  • Media
  • Technology

Nike Launches New Shoe With AR-Powered Colouring Book Via AKQA

Nike is urging customers to get creative with tech as part of its new AR campaign in Japan. ‘Create with Air Max’ has been created to launch the Nike Air Max 2090 and is a celebration of the wildly popular shoe. “Create with Air Max is an AR-enabled zine that allows users to customise the […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Data Proves Key To Marketers For Managing Change & Disruption
  • Opinion

Data Proves Key To Marketers For Managing Change & Disruption

In this guest post, Gumtree’s account manager Daniel Kuziow (main photo) says as CV-19 sends more shoppers online, data has never been more important for marketers to target them… Thanks to COVID-19, former buzzwords such as “ideate”, “pivot” and “agile” have become the new reality for all marketers. To help a business persevere and maintain […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Seven Musters Sponsors For Launch Of ‘Farmer Wants A Wife’
  • Media

Seven Musters Sponsors For Launch Of ‘Farmer Wants A Wife’

The Seven Network today announced the broad slate of sponsors that will be joining Farmer Wants A Wife when it premieres this July. Toyota Australia, IGA, Youfoodz, BUPA, Lilydale, Horticulture Australia and Mayvers, have all been confirmed as sponsors of Farmer Wants a Wife. All partners will feature throughout Farmer Wants A Wife, the most […]

Statue of Justice with scales in lawyer office. Legal law, advice and justice concept
  • Partner Content

How LegalVision Is Disrupting Law with Digital

Find out how APAC’s fastest-growing commercial law firm uses Marketo Engage to better respond to customer needs in this piece by LegalVision’s Anthony Lieu. The starting point for marketing strategy begins with the customer. That’s not an approach you often find in a commercial law firm. LegalVision didn’t start as a law firm, but as […]

Partner Content

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Former Politician Scott Emerson To Host 4BC’s New Drive Program
  • Media

Former Politician Scott Emerson To Host 4BC’s New Drive Program

Brisbane radio is set for a further shake-up with journalist and former MP Scott Emerson to host 4BC’s new local Drive program. Emerson is a highly experienced broadcaster and journalist who served as The Australian newspaper’s Queensland bureau chief and held senior journalism positions with the ABC. He has also served in the Queensland parliament and […]

FILE PHOTO: Shoppers walk into a Woolworths supermarket in Sydney, Australia August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Reed
  • Marketing

Woolworths & News Corp Partner To Aid Local Food Charities During CV-19

News Corp Australia and Woolworths today announced a joint national campaign to support Feed Appeal amid a sharp jump in the number of Australians suffering economic hardship from COVID-19 and seeking food relief. Feed Appeal, a national not-for-profit organisation that provides capacity and capability grants to local food relief charities, has reported a 50 percent […]

Change Your Plans. Your Audience Already Did
  • Opinion

Change Your Plans. Your Audience Already Did

Is it too early to start planning your holiday campaigns? Definitely not, argues Pinterest CMO Andréa Mallard in this piece. Brands love reaching their most passionate customers. As a former retail CMO myself, I get it. When you reach early planners, you reach the CEOs of the household—an audience that buys and spends more. Reach […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
The Key To Understanding Your Competitors
  • Opinion

The Key To Understanding Your Competitors

Do you love to prank call your competitors in a phoney Turkmenistan accent? Well, there's some top tips here for you.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine