Content Promotion, Earned Media, Native Advertising, Owned Media, Paid Media, Shared Media
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One of the most talked about performances from the 2014 Grammys was the unlikely pairing of rock band Imagine Dragons and rapper Kendrick Lamar. Looking to capitalize on a name familiar to mainstream music consumers and Grammy diehards alike, this year Target teamed up with Imagine Dragons to make advertising history, airing the first live commercial in the history of the 57-year old telecast.

While most of the entertainment industry was crammed into The Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, Target orchestrated a four-minute live stream of the Imagine Dragons song “Shots” from a lit up, red bullseye stage on Fremont Street in Las Vegas. The hashtag #MoreMusic occupied the lower right corner of the stream and the gaggle of social media influencers present for the performance used it to share photos and videos with the Twittersphere.

The Fable of Real Time Marketing

In last year’s post-Grammys article I praised Arby’s for their in-the-moment tweet to Pharrell that demonstrated their relevance to a conversation that was already happening. They used the right channel (Twitter) to communicate the right message (“We’re fun and playful.”) with the right call to action (which, ironically, was not an explicit CTA at all). It was real time marketing at its best and is still a cherished moment in Grammys history, even a year later.

But many marketers have given up on the wild goose chase to find their own “Oreo moment” in real time marketing; some even claim there’s no such thing as real-time marketing at all. Target’s four-minute live stream during The Grammys actually achieved what Pepsi attempted (but failed) to do last year with their staged two-and-a-half-minute commercial disguised as a “halftime show” for the Grammys

Target picked the right channel (a live stream on TV with second-screen support on Twitter), the right message (“We know you like music, so here’s a special musical event”) and the right CTA:

Target Hits a Bulls Eye

We’ve been advocates of native advertising at Relevance since Day One, so it should come as no surprise that we’re also fans of this native ad from Target. Here’s why:

It’s part of a larger strategy.

It took more than 22,000 man hours, 2,500 square feet of  LED lights, 575 people, and 15 semi-trucks to make that four-minute performance happen. If you think they did all that just to see how many RTs they could get, you couldn’t be more out of touch with content marketing reality.

Target and Imagine Dragons didn’t plan and organize an elaborate Las Vegas performance on the same night of The Grammys because they love their fans and social media followers. They did it because Imagine Dragons are releasing new music this month, because Target is distributing that music, and because they know they need to get that message out to the group of people most likely to care about that news and take action on it.

It’s novel.

As Shane Snow has noted, “Novelty is what causes us to pay attention to and/or spread messages [because] our brains are built to notice and remember things that are new.”

If most at-home Grammy viewers are like me, they mute the TV and catch up on their Twitter stream during commercials. When the Imagine Dragons live performance didn’t end after 30 or 60 seconds, curiosity got the best of me and I unmuted the TV to find out what was going on.

The idea of a remote Grammys performance streaming live during a commercial break was novel enough to catch consumers’ attention, yet relevant enough to their primary reasons for tuning in to keep them engaged for the duration of the stunt.

It’s ripe for repurposing.

When you drain your resources on an event of such magnitude, it’s foolish to treat it as “one and done.” Pre-stream activity included photo teasers on Twitter and Snapchat and heavy promotion of the forthcoming event’s hashtag.

Target put social media influencers in the crowd, knowing they would help spread the hype long after the short performance concluded.

And rich media like this behind the scenes video keeps the promotional momentum going days, and even weeks, after the event itself ends.


While the debate about whether or not native advertising is deceptive still holds true (some may contend that I was “tricked” into unmuting my TV to watch the live stream) I think the future of native advertising is unarguably brighter than its past. It can only get better from here.


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