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Rashi Goel

How News Jacking Helps Brands Go Viral with Low Budgets

How Newsjacking Helps Brands Go Viral with Low Budgets
Reading Time: 3 minutes

This newsletter continues our exploration of new age ideas in marketing.

No digital pitch discussion is complete without someone wistfully mentioning the Oreo “dunk in the dark” campaign from the 2013 super bowl.

This is what had happened. When the power went out for 34 minutes during the Superbowl, Oreo’s social media team tweeted an ad that read “Power Out? No Problem. You can still dunk in the dark.”

It was obvious that most of the viewers would have been killing time by scrolling through social media. The tweet went viral and earned Oreo thousands of eyeballs, share of mind in the right context, and hall of fame status, as far as social media campaigns go. 

Oreo ‘Dunk in the Dark” Post during Superbowl 2013

I recently learnt that there is a word to describe what Oreo did. It is called “Newsjacking”. So I had to explore and share it with you!


Newsjacking is when a brand pushes itself into a cultural event to either change the narrative or to leverage it. Some brands do it brilliantly … Nike for example, with its Kaepernick Ad.

The Nike Kaepernick Ad was a masterpiece in Newsjacking

What Makes Good Newsjacking

If your newsjack ‘adds to culture’ it is well done, if it just tries to get a free ride, it is badly done.

To do newsjacking well, the trick is to get in just after the news has broken, but before journalists start looking for more information.

Newsjacking done well is all about timing
Newsjacking done well is all about timing

Landscaping Company

One does not need big budgets or a hot shot marketing team to newsjack. The Four Seasons Landscaping company in Philadelphia newsjacked with class.

President Trump’s team booked a press conference at the Four Seasons Landscaping company – mistaking it for the Four Seasons hotel!

They leveraged this ‘happy mistake’ by selling merchandise that mimics Trump’s messages.

happy mistake

Tiger Beer and Air Ink

Air Pollution is always in the news. Tiger Beer newsjacked it. 

They captured pollution and transform it into Air-Ink — a fluid black paint. 

Just 40-50 minutes of diesel car pollution can produce a rich shade of black ink, and influential street artists gladly used the ink in their work. 

Air Ink Graffiti supported by Tiger Beer
Air Ink Graffiti
Air Ink Graffiti supported by Tiger Beer
Air Ink Graffiti

Budweiser’s 644 Beer Campaign

Lionel Messi scored his 644th goal. This wasn’t just any goal. He broke the record for most goals ever scored by a player for a single club. The previous record, held by Pele, stood for 46 years. 

Budweiser went all out to capture this moment.

They sent beers to all goalkeepers who had conceded goals to Messi – as many beers as the goals they had conceeded.
Iker Casillas, a former Real Madrid goalkeeper, received 17 beers. Gigi Buffon, a former Juventus goalkeeper, received 2 beers. While the players got paid to tweet about this event, it felt very natural and not commercial at all. Because such a big event would naturally be celebrated by all players!

Messi scoring 644 goals was always going to get media attention. But instead of the story just being about Messi, it became about Budweiser too. 

Tweet from Gianluigi

The number of Google searches spiked:

Oreo did it again!

In 2019, Oreo took advantage of the Game of Thrones finale. They named their campaign #GameofCookies. They remade the Game of Thrones opening credits with the same music, but recreated the animations with cookies (about 3,000!):

The hashtag #GameofCookies became wildly popular on social media and received a lot of attention for its impressive animation.