Under the Microscope: Content and Culture

17 Nov 2021 | Growth Labs Team

Content marketing is an essential means of communicating with customers, but how can you spice things up with your content strategy? One way to make a big impact with branded content is to tap into popular cultural trends that connect with your audience on a personal level. This type of content is often known as reactive content because it responds to a time-sensitive topic. We’ve put content and culture under the microscope to understand the impact culture has on content marketing and brand exposure.

Using Culture to Your Advantage

Leveraging culture within your brand’s content is a great way to strike a chord with your customers and use their personal interests to heighten their perception of your brand. If you’re going to use a cultural reference to help promote your brand, you need to ensure that it is relevant to your brand, and more importantly, relevant to your audience. You need to understand what your audience interacts with and whether your audience is likely to engage with memes and humour, or whether they are watching a popular TV show.

We were asked to create a banner ad to promote an article on the traps that businesses fall into while growing. One cultural reference stood out to us when thinking about traps – the famous line delivered by Admiral Ackbar in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. The line is much-loved by Star Wars fans and has even evolved into a popular meme on social media, so we knew it’d catch the eyes of their target audience.

We created an ad for a client which used the classic line in Star Wars, which has become a meme since the eruption of social media

Tap Into Ongoing Conversations

When we talk about content and culture, we’re not just talking about famous movies, we’re also talking about cultural trends in society and newsworthy topics. You need to stay on top of trends both in and outside of your industry and leverage current events in a creative, relevant and timely way to start a conversation of your own.

If there’s an ongoing conversation that’s relevant to your target audience, you should consider how you could use it to electrify your content and spark an interest in your brand. By targeting ongoing conversations and creating new ones, your brand is more likely to connect with new audiences and increase brand awareness.

Specsavers Produce Reactive Content

When it comes to creating time-sensitive, reactive content, Specsavers often leads the charge in the UK. In one of their finest moments, Specsavers responded to the Dominic Cummings scandal in which he claimed that his visit to Barnard Castle was purely made to test his eyesight. Making light of the situation, Specsavers offered free eye tests to visitors of Barnard Castle, and vouchers were placed on the back of parking tickets in the area, allowing customers to visit the Specsavers Barnard Castle store and claim their free eye test. As a result, the optical retail chain gained a lot of free brand exposure, observing a 6000% increase in online mentions of their strapline ‘Should have gone to Specsavers’.

content and culture are placed under the microscope

Specsavers also produced an excellent billboard reacting to the Euros which utilised an eye-test chart. This image below was shared on Twitter with the following text “You’ve got to see it to believe it… #ENG #ItsComingHome”.

Specsavers use the Euros to create new content

How Other Brands Reacted to the Euros

The Euros was a great example of brands connecting to their audiences through culturally relevant content. Many brands used the famous ‘it’s come home’ line to create content that will resonate with audiences on an emotional level.

Royal Mail respond to the Euros with a football destined for home

The Royal Mail used this image of a wrapped football destined for ‘home’ to promote its services, while Nationwide updated its name to solidify its association with the England team.

Nationwide adapt their content in response to the whole cultural event. Our analysis looks at the relationship between content and culture

Brands Tapping Into Television

With its captivating storyline and unpredictable character deaths, Game of Thrones was extremely popular around the world and still has people talking to this day. While the show was running, Oreo recognised the opportunity to create a special marketing campaign, Game of Cookies.

To appeal to fans of the franchise, the best-selling cookie brand completely recreated the stop-motion intro to the TV show using 2,750 cookies. This recreation was shared on the brand’s social media accounts and encouraged a high level of engagement – one tweet of the video garnished over 2 million views and 16,000 reshares.

Oreo use Game of Thrones to help them boost their brand exposure with this reactive content

To encourage more sales, the brand even released limited edition Game of Thrones Oreos.

Oreo releases limited edition Game of Thrones Oreos

By analysing what fans click on, how they interact with content and what they’re likely to share, Oreo gained a better understanding of its audience and leveraged this information to create memorable content that was highly shareable.

Whether you’re a fan or not, Love Island is a popular topic of conversation which a number of brands have used to their advantage. Drinks manufacturer Innocent regularly posts about Love Island while the show is airing to engage with fans and connect with a wider audience, building affinity with their brand.


Creating reactive content is a great way to boost engagement, brand recall and likeability – but it’s not about just jumping on any old trend. In order to leverage culture to build awareness and relatability, you need to understand how it’s relevant for both your brand, and your audience.

Looking to spice up your content strategy with reactive content? Get in touch!

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Growth Labs Team

Growth Labs Team

Based in the South-east, we are a full-service digital marketing and creative design agency. Learn More

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