Newsjacking’s new twist—check out these sweet ad-jacking cases

by | Mar 19, 2018 | Public Relations

Newsjacking is all the rage lately, and it has proven to be a pretty good PR strategy. In fact, there may be no better way to get your brand or business on the news radar than to piggyback on an item that’s already making headlines with major media.

Ever since newsjacking became a thing, thanks to pioneers of the practice like David Meerman Scott, brands have been capitalizing with huge publicity, usually based on one clever turn of phrase.

The famous Oreo tweet from the 2013 Super Bowl truly put newsjacking in the media and communications spotlight, and it’s been a bountiful tool in clever communicators’ toolboxes ever since.

Newsjacking’s new twist—check out these sweet ad-jacking cases

The 2018 Super Bowl taught us that newsjacking need not only apply to news itself, but also to advertising. Two trailblazing examples from this year’s Big Game demonstrated how out-of-the-box thinking can successfully be applied to virtually every marketing tactic.

We all know about the Tide commercials from February, where the laundry brand cleverly worked its way into what appeared to be other ads for other brands in a variety of unrelated industries, tied together when the detergent popped up around the phrase, “It’s a Tide ad.”


The success and viral activity of the effort proved to be a winning marketing idea for the brand. After the brand’s similar creative during last year‘s Super Bowl, when Terry Bradshaw fooled viewers by pretending to wipe away a stain during what appeared to be a real broadcast, Adweek said after this year’s commercials that it was “the second year Tide zigged when other brands zagged.”

The brand and its agencies—Hearts & Science (Tide’s media agency), Saatchi & Saatchi (its creative agency) and Taylor Strategy (its public relations agency)—took this year’s commercials a step further by engaging viewers on social media throughout the game, and long afterwards. It turned out to be what is now known as ad-jacking.

Automaker Volvo may have been even more successful—though not quite as visible for the simple reason that it did not advertise at all during the game on TV. Instead, Volvo spent next to no money by rolling out its Super Bowl offering exclusively on social media—and scored a massive viral hit with its “Greatest Interception “campaign, concocted by PR giant WE Communications and ad agency Grey Group.

Struggling to gain awareness in the U.S., Volvo was unable to cough up the sky-high going rate for a Big Game commercial, but knew that it had to be visible somehow on the biggest advertising day of the year. The brand and its agencies rose to the challenge with a social campaign promoting its XC60 Crossover model with a clever giveaway contest in which consumers were asked to nominate someone they knew to win a car, rather than themselves.

The campaign turned into an ad-jacking success when the brand began tweeting out #VolvoContent during competitors’ ads as an indicator that it was time for consumers to submit their nominations. These tweets, combined with the PR buzz generated during the “Jimmy Kimmel Show” broadcast that followed the game, ultimately drove all participants to a webpage with nominating instructions.

According to Grey Group, the hashtag campaign resulted in 50,000 tweets during the four hours of TV time, over 80 pieces of media coverage, and nearly 200 million earned media impressions.

On its site, WE Communications proclaimed that the social campaign was “how Sweden won the Super Bowl,” and “how Volvo dominated the Super Bowl conversation without a Super Bowl budget.” Now that’s some righteous ad-jacking!

To learn waaaaaaay more about newsjacking and how it can transform the way you think about and do public relations, check out our free webinar with David Meerman Scott, Newsjacking: How to do it right (and get results), now available on demand.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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