Marketers just can't help themselves. If there's a TV event, major news story or pop culture phenomenon being discussed on social media, brands want in.
In 2014 there were the usual tweets we've come to expect during events like the Super Bowl, Oscars and Grammys. Then there were some more unusual conversation starters. The hit podcast "Serial" got its fair share of brand tweets, marketers jumped on Apple's iPhone announcement in the fall and some even toed the line during times of remembrance like Sept. 11 and Martin Luther King Day.
For the most part, these tweets either got lost in the flurry of conversation, bordered on insensitive or missed the mark altogether. But there were some that stood out from the pack and resonated with consumers.
Here's a look at some of the best real-time marketing of the year.
It was the tweet heard around the web. Ellen DeGeneres broke records as the host of this year's Academy Awards with a selfie that included Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep and Kevin Spacey, among others. It turned out to be the most re-tweeted post on Twitter this year with more than 3.3 million retweets. The post also garnered 32.8 million impressions in its first 24-hours alone.
A white Samsung Galaxy 3 was used to take the selfie -- and prominently displayed in the picture. While Samsung claims the selfie was unplanned, the company was a major sponsor of the Oscars, buying five-and-a-half minutes of commercial time during the broadcast on ABC.
Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy said at Cannes earlier in the year that the tweet was worth $1 billion. While that figure may be difficult to prove, there's no question the selfie set a new bar for real-time marketing.
Arby's at the Grammys
When brands try to be funny, more often than not it can be cringe-worthy. But when they get it right, there's no denying the value it can bring to the company.
Arby's joke during the Grammy Awards about the hat Pharrell Williams was wearing received 75,000 retweets and more than 40,000 favorites by the following morning. It received kudos from other brands like Pepsi and Hyundai.
And it even got a response from Pharrell Williams, who at the time had about 2.7 million Twitter followers.
Arby's ultimately bought the hat from Mr. Williams for a reported $44,100, with the money going to charity.
J.C. Penney 'Tweeting With Mittens'
At first, J.C. Penney's typo-laden tweets during the Super Bowl seemed a bit off.
Toughdown Seadawks!! Is sSeattle going toa runaway wit h this???— JCPenney (@jcpenney) February 3, 2014
Who kkmew theis was ghiong tob e a baweball ghamle. #lowsscorinh 5_0— JCPenney (@jcpenney) February 2, 2014
The garbled missives prompted a flurry of comments regarding the sobriety of J.C. Penney's social media manager.
Hey @jcpenney need a designated driver?— Kia Motors America (@Kia) February 3, 2014
But then J.C. Penney revealed what was behind the screw up.
The string of tweets and the big reveal were aimed at promoting J.C. Penney's Olympic-themed, "Go USA" mittens. Sure, lots of the attention J.C. Penney received was negative, but the stunt also garnered more than 150,000 brand mentions, millions of media impressions and the addition of 10,000 new Twitter followers.
Nissan Royal Baby Announcement
When it comes to real-time marketing, speed matters. Just seven minutes after the royal family announced Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, were expecting their second child, Nissan U.K. tweeted a picture of the interior of its X-Trail seven-seater vehicle with a crown placed on each seat and the caption, "Room for all the family."
Denny's Apple-Beats Tweet
Following Apple's announcement in May that it was buying Beats for $3 billion, Denny's took to Twitter to comment on the deal.
BREAKING: Denny's Buys Beets for $3 Billion, Makes Huge Salad— Denny's (@DennysDiner) May 29, 2014
Denny's has been successful with witty, topical tweets, filling its feed with humorous posts about current events and hot topics.
In September, when Apple unveiled the iPhone 6, many of the people tuned in to the live stream of the announcement experienced technical difficulties. Denny's quickly commented.