What is Real Time Marketing?

Real Time Marketing (“RTM”),  is when marketers react quickly to a moment such as an event, a national celebration, a big game – in an effort to add some relevancy into a consumer conversation as that event is happening, usually via social media or instant response platform. It’s marketing based on time, place, and demographics designed to garner immediate feedback from consumers.

Brilliant tactic, right? Yes, but it’s also risky. If a marketer is responding to an event as the event is happening, who’s calling the attorneys to vet the response? Who’s getting legal review for that single, well placed, oh so clever tweet that could in fact create a copyright, trademark, or right of publicity claim? Chances are, unless you have a vetting process or procedures in place, no one is doing the legal vetting and you could be the next halftime headline. A brand may also run the risk for negative publicity if its RTM is made without a thorough understanding of the event and cultural context of the event.

What should a brand do?

1) Engage your trusty lawyer to train everyone on the basics of intellectual property. Know what you are and aren’t allowed to use in a tweet, retweet, or other real time marketing tactic so that you don’t unwittingly create a claim for infringement. For example, if you’re not a sponsor for the Super Bowl there’s a good chance you can’t even mention it in your own campaign.

2) Know your advertising laws. RTM is subject to the same laws and regulations as other advertising. If you’re making a claim about a product, you have to have data to back up those claims. Your RTM can’t be misleading, deceptive, or false. Are you using influencers or endorsers to do your RTM? Make sure the disclosures are placed in accordance with FTC guidelines

3) Finally, think about having an internal process so everyone has a procedure to follow before sending out that piece of marketing. If you have lead time before an event during which the marketing will be sent out, pre- vet the piece before you send it. Be proactive and not reactionary by creating a catalog of appropriate RTM options for an event… it will save you the hassle of trying to backpedal when something does go out that shouldn’t have. Remember, once it’s seen, it can’t be UNseen, whether it’s by consumers or regulators.