Guide to Reactive Marketing

When it comes to reactive marketing, timing is everything. If you turn up late to the newsjacking party, metaphorically that is, you may have missed your shot at gaining attention and impressions.

If you’re searching for the hub of reactive marketing, there’s no better (and perhaps only) place to begin than social media. Why? The online world provides the space to action your reactive strategies swiftly. Traditional mediums, such as TV, billboards, and magazines, require more time and planning, which could result in the viral trend being over.

But before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s start with the basics…

Guide to Reactive Marketing - Fenti Marketing

What is Reactive Marketing?

Reactive marketing is a dynamic approach to advertising and marketing trends that involves swiftly responding to real-time events, cultural trends, or emerging conversations in the digital space and news.

Unlike traditional marketing, often meticulously planned, reactive strategies require brands to be speedy and flexible, grabbing opportunities to engage with their audience in the moment and using viral marketing trends.

By jumping on relevant topics timely, businesses can enhance their visibility, create authentic connections with consumers, and demonstrate their quick-wittedness in an ever-evolving marketplace.

Trend jacking Triumphs: Reactive Marketing Examples

Let’s dive straight into a few inspiring campaigns from big-name brands we’ve found interesting…

Uber Eats

We all watched the Netflix docuseries about the Beckhams, right? Where Spice Girl and fashion designer, Victoria Beckham, was told to ‘Be Honest’ about her working-class background by her husband, and football mega-star, David. Uber Eats’ marketing team seized the opportunity to incorporate this in their Super Bowl ad:

Victoria: “David and I are going to be in a little commercial”.

David: “Be honest”.

Victoria: “Okay, it’s a big commercial!”

Although this marketing trend is reactive, it differs from the norm with a four-month gap but still showcases pop culture at its finest.

Source: Uber Eats


When it comes to reactive marketing, it’s safe to say that Ryanair is up there with the best! For years they have boasted a fearless approach to their reactive strategies, with memes and social media comments in their plenty.

The Irish headquartered airline’s USP is their low-cost flights, but no expenses are spared when their newsjacking is involved. A recent trend they jumped on was the TV show I’m a Celebrity in December 2023, when the UK was wooed by public figures Sam Thompson and Pete Wicks ‘bromance’. Here is Ryanair’s take on it:

Source: Ryanair

Innocent Drinks

From the King’s Coronation to Covid-19, Innocent has perfected its social media reactive marketing to a T. The smoothie and juice company manages to seamlessly blend viral marketing with its well-known image, staying within the brand guidelines and business values.

An example we loved from Innocent back in September 2023 was their British Bake Off bingo:

Source: Innocent

Benefits of Reactive Marketing

Reactive marketing isn’t all fun and games, it also comes with benefits for your business!

  • Utilising trends shows your company’s humorous side – 90% of consumers said they would more likely remember funny ads, but only 20% of brands reported using humour.
  • Viral marketing demonstrates a brand’s relevance and ability to stay current with cultural conversations and trends.
  • By newsjacking authentically to events or trends, brands can build trust and credibility with their audience. 55% of buyers confessed they’re more likely to buy a product if they love a brand’s genuineness.
  • Reactive strategies can be more cost-effective than traditional marketing campaigns since they leverage existing conversations and events.
  • Marketing trends provide opportunities for spontaneous growth and increased engagement, especially during viral moments. Research by Statista found that 87% of marketers reported that they met their brand awareness goals in 2020 through content marketing.
  • Reacting to trending topics can lead to increased social media engagement, shares, and brand mentions.

Understanding the Risks of Reactive Marketing

At times, reactive marketing does carry risks. If your responses are too hasty or insensitive, it could potentially be damaging your brand’s reputation. Some of the risks include:

  • Reacting to topics or events that don’t align with your brand’s values or target audience may result in backlash or alienation.
  • Reacting to external events means less control over the narrative, making it challenging to predict outcomes or manage potential problems.
  • Delayed or inappropriate responses may allow competitors to gain an advantage or undermine the brand’s position in the market.

Fenti Went Viral!

On 24th February 2024, Scotland went into hysterics as a faux Willy Wonka Experience arrived in Glasgow. The organisers, House of Illuminati, promised “the place where chocolate dreams become reality” but it was, in fact, an AI-designed illusion and ticket holders arrived at an empty warehouse and one jellybean per child.

With international news and social media going wild over the scam, including the New York Times and Rolling Stone, we had a reactive marketing TikTok idea to get involved too!

The Fenti social team ‘recreated’ the bargain Glasgow Wonka Factory in our office, with half-cups of lemonade and a tin foil ‘Unknown’ mask; drafting in our best actors – Kieron (Web Development Manager), George (Web Developer), Hannah (Social Media Exec), and Tom (Paid Media Manager).

We noticed other brands hadn’t properly reacted on social media to the viral news yet and raced to be the first… The result? Over 800’000 views, 64’000 likes, and almost 7000 favourites – and it’s still growing!

Reactive marketing success doesn’t necessarily translate to new clients, but brand awareness and recognition are also a major pat on the back.

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