If you’re a sports fan, you owe it to yourself to go back and watch the 2012 Daytona 500. The February race is NASCAR’s biggest event, and it annually kicks off the new season. In 2012, the Daytona 500 saw multiple rain delays that pushed it to primetime for the first time ever. NASCAR was actually thrilled with this development as it meant a large audience was going to be exposed to the sport for the first time. And that audience saw quite the spectacle, indeed.
With 40 laps left in the race, there was a caution that happened when a car on the track had an issue. As usually happens, trucks were sent out on the track to clean up debris. As this happened, the race cars continue to circle the track at a much slower ‘pace’ speed. Basically the cars on the track go into a sort of ‘holding pattern’ until the debris on the track is cleared and NASCAR deems the race can continue.
While under caution, one of the cars on the track suddenly lost control and slammed into one of the trucks on track to clear debris. This led to a huge explosion and resulting fire. Then things got really interesting. Driver Brad Keselowski just happened to have his smartphone with him in his car and he snapped a photo of the cars on the track, and sent it to Twitter from the race track. This was the first time that a NASCAR driver had ever tweeted DURING a race!
The tweet itself became a huge deal and Brad gained over 50,000 followers on Twitter in an hour or so. It also drove a lot of spontaneous attention on Twitter, to the Daytona 500. Suddenly everyone on Twitter was talking about how ‘one of them race cars hit a truck and exploded and a driver’s tweeting it!’ Remember this was 4 years ago in 2012, athletes and celebrities using Twitter was still a bit of a novelty.
So back to the race, when the car struck the cleanup truck and caused the explosion, it also created a huge oil and gas leak as it ran out of the truck and down the track. The stuff was so toxic there was fear that it would literally eat away the finish of the track and potentially cause the race to be postponed. The solution? NASCAR and Daytona officials hurry to the scene with a cleaner that would quickly save the day.
Boxes of Tide detergent. That’s right, a national audience watched as Tide detergent got one of the best organic product placements since CBS focused in on the Nike logo on Tiger Woods’ putt as it fell into the hole during The Masters. Even better, Fox NASCAR announcer Darryl Waltrip was calling the race and Tide was his main sponsor during his racing days. So as the cleanup is being performed with simple Tide detergent, Darryl is doing what any good NASCAR driver does (even former ones) he was plugging his sponsor and singing the praises of Tide detergent.
It was the real-time content marketing opportunity of a lifetime for Tide, and it fell right in their laps. Unfortunately, at the time Tide’s Twitter account was asleep and missed capitalizing on any of this. Ironically, I quickly wrote up a blog post during the delay, published it, and the next morning ESPN interviewed me for a story they did on the race, and I got to discuss how Tide dropped the social media ball here. So one brand’s loss was another blogger’s gain!
But last week, Kohl’s was a bit smarter. You’ve probably already seen the Happy Chewbacca video but just in case you did not (or want another good laugh):
Note at the start that Candace mentions buying the mask at Kohls. So when your brand gets a positive mention during one of the most popular videos in the history of the internet, what does your brand do? If it’s smart, it goes out of its way to reach the person behind that video and thank them for the kind mention. Kohls was smart enough to do just that, they drove to Candace’s house, gave her and her family loads of Star Wars toys (including Chewbacca masks for everyone in the family), and plenty of gift cards. Candace was clearly moved and thrilled by Kohls’ act.
The cynic will argue that Kohls is just trying to capitalize on the popularity of this video. Of COURSE that’s what they are doing! That’s what they SHOULD be doing, but the first thing they should do is communicate to Candace that they appreciate the fact that she shopped at Kohls, and mentioned them. Think of how much money Kohls would have had to spend to get as much positive publicity as Candace gave the brand in 4 mins? Millions. So showing up at her doorstep with a few thousand dollars in merchandise and store credits is a very small price to pay for that publicity. Plus, that act itself gets Kohls MORE positive publicity, as you see here.
The two most important words in social media are ‘Thank you’. When a customer does something for you, you thank them. Don’t overthink this social media stuff, y’all.