Last Sunday, an American Footballer 1 announced that he was gay.

Like last month when the first Premier League footballer came out (five months after retiring from the game), this caused a stir in the news.

But an interesting angle was pointed out in AdAge about the reaction from the advertising world – where "real time" is the latest buzz, vocal brands and real-time advertisers had nothing to say.

Too sensitive a topic? Perhaps. But more likely that 'real time advertising' isn't really the 'real time', 'agile', 'always-on' approach that its being pitched as. Instead, its just a case of forward planning – maybe some quick photoshop work or some fast-working video production.

The commenters on the article don't seem to agree – consensus seems to be that commenting on the story would have been inappropriate. For example;

"Brands, in general, are not weighing in on slow-burning issues that culminate in RT moments (laws affecting same-sex marriage, for example)."

However, a little searching reveals this to be a bad example.

Forbes has a slideshow of some outdoor advertising. Mashable has a story about Microsoft and Amazon having some videos. Chevrolet are running some pro-gay marriage ads over the Winter Olympics, and Business Insider has an article – including plenty of social media examples.

I think the issue is that brands are weighing in on these slow-burning issues. But only the slow-burning issues. (Maybe 'social media' still isn't ready for fireworks.)

Apparently brands have already been in touch with Sam about sponsorship deals – so maybe its that they are looking to make a stronger statement than merely tweeting about their support.

Maybe its just that I'm not paying close attention to the kinds of brands who are tweeting their support or posting about it to their Facebook pages – I am, after all, neither American nor an American Football fan (and haven't been spending much time on Twitter or Facebook this last week or two), so I'm taking it on faith that AdAge's writer, editors and commenters would have noticed if it were a false premise.

But the feeling I get is that this is an example of where 'real time' is falling short. Right now, its about either preparing for moments of planned spontaneity, or looking for the technology that will detect the stories that meet certain key brand-related criteria (read: use the right keywords.)

The point where 'real time' becomes 'real' still seems some way off yet.

  1. That is, a player of American Football. Not an *actual* footballer.