During this year’s Super Bowl, brands like Oreo and Tide didn’t just stick to their traditional pre-planned paid advertising routine—they tried something new. Along with six others, they flexed their social media muscles and jumped on the unexpected blackout bandwagon, creating new content in real-time as half of the Superdome went dark. Brands that took advantage of the blackout made front page news for their quick thinking.
Unsurprisingly, buzz around Oreo’s “Dunk in the Dark” execution and Pepsi’s take on the Harlem Shake has been high during New York’s Social Media Week. The recent shift towards creating culturally relevant content in real-time has publications such as the Harvard Business Review opining that advertisers will operate more like newsrooms by the year 2020. But at sparks & honey, Madison Avenue and the newsroom came together back in March of 2012.
I’ve been working as a senior community manager at sparks & honey almost since the agency’s launch. My role is part-social media, part-editorial and newsroom reporter. It is not your typical 9 to 5 job. We eat culture for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We are equipped to monitor live events while engaging social media users in real-time and co-creating content with them, which makes for more memorable and shareable content. With the data-driven newsroom model and 24/7 social media reporters, we put culture and consumer behaviors at the forefront of the content we develop.
So what does a typical day in the life of sparks & honey’s advertising newsroom look like? It’s a little challenging to describe, because there really isn’t one. Not only is each day different due to the very nature of culture and news, but also because we continuously work with different clients and create a wide variety of content ranging from editorial and graphics to videos and offline events.
As culture breaks during the day – whether an emerging news item, a new meme, a viral video or some other fast culture touch point – we swarm newsroom-style to address the item and make decisions in real-time as to how it may impact the brands with which we work.
We like to refer to the environment in our newsroom as “controlled chaos.” We have very specific routines, mechanics and planning processes that allow us to monitor huge quantities of cultural information and activate on it quickly. We brief a minimum of three times a day, with early morning and late day briefings by email, and a mid-morning cultural briefing that allows for a melding of minds between our cultural strategists, behavioral scientists, account teams and creatives.
We stay tapped in all day via our Bridge - a series of giant screens erected around the sparks & honey offices that stream emerging trends and breaking news as they happen. Throughout the day, we monitor and analyze these trends using our proprietary platform and data mining algorithms that help us track the energy and determine the likely longevity of a particular cultural burst. Our philosophy is to identify emerging trends early in their “wave” cycle and then help brands participate in the conversations by creating relevant content in real-time. We call this process “Wave Branding.”
As we uncover developing trends that relate to a client’s target market, business objective and brand essence, a multidisciplinary team gathers to quickly decide on the approach we should take and type of content we should curate, adapt from our pre-planned reserve library, or create from scratch. Our newsroom-style creative process differs from the traditional advertising model of briefs, brainstorms and a seemingly infinite number of revisions. We prefer to find order in chaos, strategize in real-time, execute with urgency and inject our brands into culture with authenticity.
sparks & honey is a next generation agency that helps brands synchronize with culture. Follow us on Twitter at @sparksandhoney to stay up to date on the latest, high energy trends.