We see brands jumping on viral content and popular memes in order to seem relevant and take advantage of the buzz whether it is Game of Thrones fever or a popular global event like the recent sighting of a black hole.

Event Horizon Telescope Multiwavelength Working Group, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory.
Shadow of a black hole ‘Sagittarius A’ at the center of M87 galaxy.

What is this image?

This image is a ‘shadow’ of the supermassive black hole which is 6.5 billion times the mass of our Sun. It is at the center of Messier 87 (M87) which happens to be some 55 million light-years from Earth.

Black hole & the Quality of Buzz on Social Media

Sometimes the brands pick the most useful bits of viral content and try to align themselves around the conversation in a bid to seem relevant where their audience is around. Most of the times these brands end up producing content which shows that much thought has not been put into it.

For instance, in my opinion, Jazz put half-cooked effort in this post trying to up-sell its 4G data by showing a comparison of the real black hole image as a 240p image & then comparing it with a ‘1080p picture’ of the black hole, perhaps streamed via Jazz4G.

How you see a black hole with Jazz 4G.

From the outset, it looks like a funny & harmless post trying to simply say that “everything is HD with Jazz Super4G”. Well, Jazz might be totally honest in its claim that everything can be seen in fullHD with Jazz Super4G.

Not that we challenge this claim, but before we laugh and move on, a couple of things need attention.

  1. Is this the best Jazz (and/or the agency) could do with the image of a black hole? I think they could do better.
  2. Whenever we write about resolution whether 240, 360, 480, 720 or 1080, never have I ever seen anyone using a capital letter P. It is almost always written as 240p or 1080p & not 1080P.
  3. Surprisingly (or not), this post received high reach & better engagement, even more than their recent Game of Thrones post (we’ll talk about this in a another post).

This event was a milestone in the history of human race. In the recent past we only confirmed the existence of black holes but now we have imaged the shadow as well. It is not less than a scientific feat and needed a much mature appreciation from brands.

This would have created an informed & longer impact in the minds of customers who are interested in Science. Perhaps our audience is not yet prepared to receive such campaigns and marketers fear that such a campaign will be dry & it cannot help them meet the metrics they want to achieve. But are we as marketers contributing to the dumbing-down of audience. Can we make thoughtful posts rather than quick witty ones to have a deeper longer impact with our customers?

Few other brands took a chance and used black hole on their social media channels. Here is how Huawei’s viewed the black hole:

And then Pepsi also shed some light on what’s on the other side of the black hole:

A refreshing glass of Pepsi is on the other side of a black hole.

Among all these portrayals, Huawei’s use of this global phenomena seemed subtle and not as a desperate attempt to be part of the conversation. Or did you find Pepsi’s use much better. I would love to read your disagreement (or agreement) in the comments below.

For a second, if we imagine the black hole posing for the picture and it peeks into our solar system. It will get a glimpse of the brands pulling digital stunts to ‘steal some light’. The black hole may shrug with a grin or laugh it off. It may also want to throw a ‘Like’ at Jazz4G for presenting it so beautifully, unlike EHT, NASA & other scientists. Perhaps it gets offended by this mediocre portrayal and starts racing towards us, who knows.

Conclusion

In any case, we can see that brands quickly jumped on the opportunity to become part of the conversation of a global phenomena and get some digital reception around the buzz. Some consumers of the brands may have liked these attempts and engaged with the brand others may have disliked them. But as the attention span gets shorter and shorter, these subtle or loud attempts seem like a necessary effort for brands to stay relevant.

These posts might not be able to generate a long-lasting relationship with a customer however they might place a good or bad anchor in a potential customer’s mind. What matters is not just how the brands may have used a black hole’s image on their Facebook page but what long-lasting impact this created or could create if done better, in the minds of consumers who have any affinity with science, physics, black holes etc.

Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Black Hole Marketing
Here’s to the heroes who reached the stars.

Lastly, I wonder if the scientists in Event Horizon Telescope Multiwavelength Working Group or their peers at NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory would find the above mentioned posts amusing. Or perhaps they realize that a telescope is not needed to see the black hole in social media marketing and brands falling right into it.