Since almost the moment the NCAA announced the 64 teams in this year's men's basketball tournament, Nike's social media machine has been cranking.
One after another, Nike has churned out magazine-quality ads with snappy slogans -- "Don't Be Fooled By The Smarts Or Harvard Will Teach You a Lesson," for example -- for some of the nearly 50 tournament teams it outfits in sneakers and uniforms.
In another time, these are the kinds of Nike ads that would have found a place on a billboard in each college's hometown or maybe even in New York City's Times Square. And of course the local newspaper and television stations would have shot the billboard for mass, local consumption.
But these Nike ads have been appearing on Twitter and Facebook. And as each team advances, the ads have been appearing within hours of the game's final buzzer. "Fourth Round Knockout," says the phrase hovering over a boxing-ringed basketball court following Ohio State's fourth-quarter victory Thursday over Arizona.
Speed has caught up with creativity as an essential element in building and maintaining a brand. And companies had better have a fast quality-control process, or luck, or supreme confidence -- or all of the above -- to ensure their brand and message doesn't get mangled in the rush of the new order.
Another recent example that attracted attention was Oreo's response to the Super Bowl blackout.
The Nabisco-brand cookie had a 30-second commercial, produced by the Portland office of Wieden+Kennedy, but another ad agency was producing a stream of Twitter messages and Instagram photos.
Shortly after the lights went out, the Oreo team tweeted a photo of a cookie and the message, "You can still dunk in the dark."
The next morning, the critics said W+K's TV ad was good, but they were gaga over Oreo's nimble social media response.
"Speed is now a criteria for marketers," said Ian Schafer, chief executive officer for Deep Focus, a digitally focused advertising agency in New York City. "Time is as much a part of relevance as anything else."
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