7 Excellent Examples of Newsjacking

Newsjacking is an excellent idea for creating high quality, shareable content – but you’ve got to be able to pick your story, find the right angle and create something valuable that either adds to the conversation or makes your audience laugh, all in a very short space of time. It’s not an easy thing to do and many, many companies get it wrong (we’ll feature some examples of this in a follow-up post next week), but it’s always impressive and valuable when a brand gets it right. In this post we’ll look at 7 examples of brands and agencies doing just this; getting newsjacking spot on. If you’re not familiar with newsjacking, it’s a term coined by David Meerman Scott, who describes it as:

the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business.

So let’s have a look at some excellent examples of companies who have done newsjacking well:

1. Mini

This is one of my favourite examples of newsjacking in the last year or so, and demonstrates perfectly how to take a news story, inject some humour and link it to a brand ethos. The ad is referring to the discovery of horsemeat in beef products in the UK and Europe, found via DNA testing. The story initially broke in Ireland and spread quickly across the European Union, resulting in huge numbers of beef products being removed from supermarkets and shops. Taking advantage of the story, which was huge news all across Europe, Mini produced this ad with the tagline ‘Beef. With a lot of horses hidden in it.’


2. Sir Alex Ferguson Retirement

A lot of companies jumped on the news of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson retiring, with varying results. Some of the ads, Tweets and pieces of content were pretty poor, but a couple of them were excellent and earned the brands a lot of social media traction and increased traffic. I couldn’t pick between two examples, as I think they’re both excellent, so I’ve included both.

The first was an ad (used both online and in print) from Paddy Power, who are generally very good at jumping on the news and using it to their advantage. Their ad reads ‘Some Scouser has one wish left…’ and then has a wish list of Maggie (crossed off), Fergie (crossed off) and Liverpool to win the league, which cleverly has odds next to it of 25-1 (considering they’re a betting company, it’s a direct advertisement of a specific bet, as well as general brand advertising). The second is a Tweet from Nando’s, which reads ‘in honour of Sir Alex Ferguson’s announcement that he is retiring we’re proud to introduce ‘Nando’s Fergie Time’ – all our Manchester Nando’s will be open 5 minutes later tonight’. A funny reference that any football fan will get, and a great way to advertise their brand in a way that was sure to (and did) increase social media traction.


3. Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways are the main sponsor of Manchester City Football Club, so when Manchester United won the league last month and City got beaten by Wigan in the FA Cup final, you would imagine they didn’t have a whole lot to shout about. That context made it even more impressive when they demonstrated a superb level of wit and opportunism last month – upon spotting a photo taken in Manchester of United players in a City-sponsored, sky blue taxi (while on a night out celebrating their title win), Etihad quickly incorporated the picture into an ad in the Manchester Evening News. The ad showed the picture, with a tagline reading ‘Congratulations Manchester United. You deserve to go home in style.’


4. Kit Kat

Another football-related piece of newjacking, this one focusing on Michael Owen’s retirement from the game back in March. The ad features a pair of boots hung up on the number 10 hook (Owen’s England number), and has the famous Kit Kat slogan and logo. The image was featured on Facebook, alongside the status ’40 England goals, 89 caps and one devastating hat-trick against Germany. Michael, have a well earned break’. The status was Liked over 250 times in one day, and shared all over the social media platform in the following days.


5. The Guardian

This ad was featured in The Guardian newspaper, and was published in the weeks after the death of Margaret Thatcher to promote an upcoming feature on the former Prime Minister’s life. Using someone’s death to promote a brand or product is a very tricky and often ill-advised practice, but in this instance the ad is tastefully done and isn’t attempting to profit on the misfortune of others – instead using a significant cultural and historical event to promote an unbiased piece of journalism.

The ad features a jar of Marmite, labelled ‘Margaret’ and featuring an image of Thatcher’s face along with the line ‘Contains Iron’. This is an excellent play on the tagline of Marmite (‘you either love it or hate it’) and the juxtaposition of Thatcher’s reputation and popularity in the UK, which divides opinion to this day. The ‘Contains Iron’ is also a clever reference to Maggie’s nickname as subsequent characterisation as ‘The Iron Lady’. Along with the image is the tagline ‘One woman, a nation divided’ along with some information on the article the ad is promoting.

Thatcher Marmite

6. Oreo

This brilliant Tweet was sent out during Super Bowl XLVII, when the lights in the stadium went out for half an hour, causing the game to be stopped until they were fixed. Given the worldwide popularity of the Super Bowl and the millions of TV viewers, jumping on this event was an excellent idea and although many, many brands attempted it, the Oreo Tweet was by far the best and resulted in more than 12,000 ReTweets before the game even restarted.

The Tweet read ‘Power out? No problem’ and featured an image of an Oreo cookie in a dark space, with the tagline ‘You can still dunk in the dark’.

Oreo Superbowl

7. Eurostar

This one was spotted in a magazine by Grant Hunter from Urgent Genius, who included it on his blog. It’s a great example of opportunistic advertising and was published around Beckham’s announcement that he would be joining PSG from Real Madrid.

The ad featured a new-born baby with a hospital wrist-tag, revealing the baby’s name to be Paris. The tag line reads ‘It is the City of Love after all David’ and then the Eurostar logo (who of course do regular trips to Paris from the UK). It’s a clever reference to the Beckham’s highly publicised naming of their son Brooklyn, who was conceived in New York City. It’s a great example of being on the ball (no pun intended) and releasing a clever, sophisticated promotional advert that uses the news superbly to make the reader laugh and increase brand recognition:

Eurostar Beckham

Have you got a good example of newsjacking you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments below! If you can find some good examples of how not to take advantage of current news stories, let us know and we’ll include it in our upcoming post with a credit link to you for sending it to us (if we haven’t spotted it already that is).

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