Cashing In On Kanye: How Award Show Triggers Can Benefit Your Brand

  • When you think about real-time marketing, social media platforms likely come to mind. Contributor Jason Warnock explains how email campaigns can piggyback on live events, too.


    Marketers drool over events that attract crowds of viewers, and few events rival the appeal of major award shows. In February, The Grammys drew 28.5 million viewers and most of them were digitally connected, watching the show with mobile devices in-hand.

    During this year’s Grammys, Kanye West stormed the stage (again) to protest Beck’s win for Album of the Year. But Beck won twice because, thanks to Kanye, sales of his album, “Morning Phase,” instantly skyrocketed by more than 1,000 percent.

    If Beck can capitalize on the Grammys, so can you — and award show triggers can help you do it.

    Tapping Into The Award Show Marketing Machine

    Everyone knows that major award shows like the Oscars and Grammys are serious marketing machines for artists, actors, record labels, film studios and other interests. With viewership in the tens of millions, award shows present juicy targets for brands and marketers that are closely connected to entertainment and pop culture.

    But the marketing benefits of award shows aren’t limited to the obvious verticals. With a little creativity, marketers across all verticals can connect with award show audiences using triggered digital campaigns—ideal mechanisms for tapping into the hype, regardless of your brand or industry.

    Consider this: when Kanye stormed the stage, the Twitterverse exploded as millions of viewers powered up their smartphones to participate in the conversation. Now imagine that your brand was at the epicenter of the action, engaging with consumers in real-time or even before Kanye took his first step toward the stage. Though brands have already begun instituting real-time marketing strategies on social networks like Twitter, the same techniques can be applied to email.

    By automatically deploying targeted email offers in real-time based on specific award show events, triggered digital campaigns position your brand front and center, and create opportunities to reap significant business from someone else’s marketing machine.

    Types Of Award Show Triggers

    Award shows serve up marketing opportunities around various types of event triggers. The key is to tie specific award show occurrences with offers or promotions capable of converting viewers into paying customers.

    1. The Countdown Promotion

    Award shows are meticulously orchestrated to meet time and programming requirements. The methodical structure of most award shows presents opportunities for marketers to build promotional momentum by offering sales based on show timing (e.g., the red carpet hour, the start of the show, commercial breaks, the end of the show).

    Campaign Examples:

    • The Oscars kick off in 1 hour — order your pizza now to have it in time for the show!
    • Red Carpet Sale! Deep discounts on our entire inventory until the last star leaves the Grammys red carpet.

    2. The Winners Promotion

    Award show viewers have strong opinions about nominees and likely winners. It’s okay for brands and marketers to express opinions, too. In fact, trigger campaigns built around category winners are effective because they allow viewers to follow their favorite brands’ picks and benefit from promotional offers if the brand’s pick comes out on top.

    Campaign Examples:

    • If Michael Keaton wins Best Actor for Birdman, we’ll offer 15% off everything in the store or free shipping for the next 24 hours
    • Pharrell Williams’ win makes us “Happy;” celebrate with buy one, get one free for today only!

    3. The Wildcard Promotion

    Wildcard event promotions can be a lot of fun for marketers and audiences. From tasteless hosts to lip-syncing artists to rambling political speeches, there’s always at least one unexpected happening that people will talk about at the water cooler. From a marketing perspective, wildcard events provide excellent fodder for trigger campaigns.

    Campaign Examples:

    • Free shipping on all orders for the next 3 days if host Neil Patrick Harris makes a Doogie Howser reference at this year’s Oscars ceremony
    • Take 35% off everything if Kanye storms the stage!

    The beautiful thing about award shows is that the audience is already engaged and eager to participate in the event.

    Triggered digital campaigns allow brands to participate in the conversation as it happens instead of playing catch up tomorrow or the next day — long after most of the audience has moved on to other things.

    Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

    About The Author

    Jason Warnock is the vice president of market intelligence and deliverability for Yesmail Interactive. A seasoned digital marketing veteran, he spearheaded the development of the Yesmail Market Intelligence tool that tracks the campaigns of competitors across eight digital channels, including email and social media. Warnock has designed and executed successful technology and business strategies for several Fortune 500 companies.

    (Some images used under license from


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