CENTURY 21 Social Marketing Recognized in NY Times Feature
July 24, 2013
Welcoming a Royal Baby While Trying
Not to Steal the Spotlight
By TANZINA VEGA
When Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, left the hospital on Tuesday
holding their son, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, they were greeted by a
collective cooing not just from the media and the rest of the nonroyal populace, but from
Amid the baby frenzy in the news media, advertisers took to Twitter and Facebook to send
congratulatory messages to the royal family, with brands including Johnson & Johnson, CocaCola and Pampers publishing posts inspired by campaigns the companies had begun before the
birth. While the digital media reaction to the campaigns was decidedly mixed, they were
examples of how brands are increasingly trying to become part of news-driven cultural
An advertisement for Coca-Cola featured two bottles of the soft-drink with the names “Wills”
and “Kate” on them in a congratulatory toast. “Time for a royal celebration,” read the caption,
followed by the Twitter hashtag #ShareACoke. The idea came from the company’s “Share a
Coke” campaign in New Zealand and Australia, where the bottles were labeled with names
common in those countries, said Andra London a global communications manager at Coca-Cola.
“We didn’t want it to be about pushing a product,” Ms. London said. “We wanted it to be about
the happiness of the occasion because that’s where our brand values lie.” By Wednesday
afternoon, the ad had received more than 10,000 “likes” on Facebook and was shared about
At Pampers, a Procter & Gamble brand, the social media approach included a short video that
was an extension of the “Love, Sleep and Play” campaign the brand announced this month,
which encouraged parents to submit photos of their babies to the Pampers Facebook page. “It’s
such a no-brainer for us,” said John Brase, the marketing director for Pampers in North
America. “We want to celebrate all births, no matter if it’s the royal baby or the mom down theMED
street in Cincinnati.”
By Wednesday afternoon, more than 3,200 people had “liked” the video on Facebook and had
shared it 74 times. “It exceeded our expectations,” Mr. Brase said of the response, adding that »
the video had been viewed thousands of times.
Tom Morton, the head of strategy at the advertising agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners in
New York, said choosing to focus more on branding and less on product placement was safe for
brands that do not want to appear to be crass.
“The truth is there’s very little to say beyond congratulations,” Mr. Morton said, adding that
brands that try too hard to sell a product during an occasion like the royal birth can risk
appearing out of sync with the event. “The brands that try to insert themselves and insert their
sales into the story are going to be called out for it.”
According to data from Twitter, there were six million posts related to the royal baby from the
time Ms. Middleton, formally known as the Duchess of Cambridge, was admitted to the hospital
through Wednesday and 150,000 posts that mentioned #RoyalBabyBoy. There were more
than 25,000 posts on Twitter a minute when the birth was announced and 18,000 tweets a
minute when the family made its first media appearance with the baby.
Data from Facebook showed there were 19 million interactions, including “likes,” shares and
posts, relating to the royal baby on Tuesday, which peaked at 8:37 p.m. in London with 31,000
The trend of so-called real-time marketing took off after a stadium blackout during this year’s
Super Bowl, when Oreo and a handful of other brands responded with posts on Twitter
referring to the event.
The Oreo ad, which featured a cookie in a darkened space with the tagline “You can still dunk in
the dark,” was a success for the brand. Oreo’s royal baby ad, however, drew mixed reactions.
The ad was posted on Twitter with the tagline “Long Live the Creme” and showed a baby bottle
full of milk on a red pillow. Representatives at Oreo said in a statement that while the world was
awaiting the royal birth, “we were thrilled to provide our own Oreo welcome in a way consistent
with our brand’s approach.”
On Facebook, an ad featuring Johnson’s Head-to-Toe Baby Wash, a Johnson & Johnson
product, featured a baby in a bathtub with a crown made of bubbles with the caption,
“Congratulations to the royal couple on their brilliant news.” The ad was posted before the birth
announcement and yielded more than 1,500 likes and about 100 shares on the site by
“While the royal baby ad addresses the joys of a baby being born to a royal family, it’s just
another example of how we continue to celebrate all families and babies,” said Ivy Brown, a
marketing director for Johnson’s Baby.
An ad for the real estate company Century 21 included a bit of a sales pitch when it said, “Is
There a Century 21 Agent in the House?” and made reference to consumers with expanding
families needing an agent to help them find a new home. Matt Gentile, the director of social
media for Century 21, said the campaign was relevant to the birth.
“Real estate transactions happen for happy reasons and sad reasons, births certainly are one of
the most happy moments,” he said. “You have to be careful but at the same time you can’t put
out boring content that everyone else is putting out there either.”