Pay attention to the news and you’ll see trending stories are everywhere. If you wonder, just do a quick search.

The news has always been more interested in what’s trending because that’s where the eyeballs are. People always want to know about the next greatest thing. It’s what everyone else is talking about and they get validation from being “in the know.”

This formula works for new stations’ ratings. So, why shouldn’t you do the same?

Here’s a strategy that may just make for your next great creative idea: piggyback on a trend with your creative marketing pieces. In other words, find a trending story (not just a headline) and write creative messaging that touches on it in some way so it gets sucked into that topic funnel.

For example…

The news has been trending hard recently on the controversial issue of the growing number of football players who refuse to stand during the national anthem. And whether you agree with them or not, the topic has national attention.
 

 

It’s an opportunity for some attention-grabbing creative

We wrote a simple spot, and are working on a television commercial for Fulton Homes that will run during the football games. The messaging of the commercial treads lightly on the topic, but just enough to catch attention as the subject matter shows up on consumers’ radar. This spot will intentionally not take a political stand, but will stand out enough just by addressing the issue from a broader perspective, in a tasteful way.

The message? Simply, “Fulton Homes stands for the USA.”

There are many advantages to piggybacking in your creative. But the most valuable is that you join a movement and ride the coattails of companies paying big bucks to lay the foundation for this trend and keep it in motion. Like jumping into a flowing river, the water does a lot of the work, and you get to benefit from its current.

And you don’t even have to do an expensive TV commercial. Taking advantage of trends can be done in through whatever creative outlet you are using: visuals, social media posts, videos, radio and more.

 

If you’re considering this as your next creative piece, there are a few things to keep in mind as you implement this strategy

  • Stay in the loop. Use Google Alerts to keep yourself informed on trending topics, especially in your area of interest or industry. When you spot a trend early on, gather the creative minds and brainstorm ways to take advantage of it. What conversations are people having? Scour Twitter, Facebook, Quora, Buzzfeed and other sites where global and national conversations are being had.

 

  • Tread your messaging lightly on sensitive issues. For example, Hurricane Harvey is likely to trend for months to come. But we wouldn’t recommend using a story like this unless your messaging is supportive and serious in nature as opposed to humorous. The best stories to jump on are trending, but not overly sensitive in nature. On the flipside, controversial can be good in the right trend. It helps you stand out even more and can even take your creative viral. Feel free to make fun of the overuse of emoji all you want, for example. You’re not going to offend anyone in that space.

 

  • Be prepared for some backlash. Going against the grain or piggybacking a trend with a sarcastic or snarky message, you’re sure to get a few haters. But that’s not always a bad thing. Everyone has them. Be prepared with a PR plan, just in case. It may even work to your advantage by giving you additional exposure you weren’t expecting. Gauge and monitor your risk tolerance and make sure you’re comfortable with the worst case scenario.

 

Despite your best efforts, it may just not work out like you wanted. Just ask Pepsi. They had an enormous amount of backlash trying to piggyback the BLM movement with this ad. They even had to pull it.

Of course, we’re here to help with any of this. Ideas, implementation and even crisis management should something go wrong. When done correctly, creative piggybacking can garner enormous amounts of ROI for your budget.

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