Companies in all sorts of industries have highly structured and pre-planned marketing campaigns in place. But sometimes circumstances arise that give them a perfect opportunity to be a little bit spontaneous.

This was made apparent this week when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced that they are expecting a baby. It’s a happy occasion for any couple when they are set to welcome a new arrival, but when it is a senior royal on the way then it is also major news.

Once the announcement was made, many businesses rushed to express their best wishes to William and Kate via Twitter, including John Lewis, Morrisons and Innocent.

There are many reasons why they chose to do so. Firstly, the royal family is very popular in the UK so it certainly doesn’t hurt for brands to display a little bit of patriotism.

Secondly, it offers firms a chance to show they are outward looking and engaged with the wider world.

Thirdly, news of this nature is guaranteed to be the subject of lots of debate on social media, so it’s a great way for brands to boost their visibility by taking part or triggering discussions themselves.

Of course, the one problem with spontaneous marketing activity is that the odd embarrassing mistake can be made.

For instance, WKD’s efforts to congratulate the happy couple prompted some derision on Twitter when it spelt Kate Middleton’s surname incorrectly.

But for most firms, the news offered a brilliant chance for them to remind the wider public of the products and services they offer.

Not surprisingly, companies that specialise in items for babies, such as Pampers, were keen to hail the royal announcement and suggest Wills and Kate might need to buy more nappies.

Morrisons, meanwhile, told its Twitter followers that it has a “fair few buns in the oven too – at our bakeries of course!”.

Other companies opted for a less promotional approach, with John Lewis for example simply saying: “Delighted to hear the news from @ClarenceHouse that The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a second child – congratulations!”

It’s notable that it isn’t just brands that take to Twitter to react to major announcements in order to reinforce their image.

The UK’s political leaders rushed to the social media platform to express their congratulations, with prime minister David Cameron saying he is “delighted by the happy news”.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg described the announcement as “fantastic”, while Labour leader Ed Miliband also expressed his delight.

However, politicians aren’t always immune from criticism when they comment on seemingly uncontroversial matters.

Scottish first minister Alex Salmond was criticised by some for referring to Wills and Kate by their Scottish titles the Earl and Countess of Strathearn. Critics argued that it was inappropriate to try to make a political point ahead of the Scottish independence referendum, which is taking place on September 18th.

It’s a reminder that while being spontaneous and reacting to news as it happens is a worthwhile approach to take, it’s important not to look as if you’re trying to forcefully push your own agenda at the same time.

John Lewis, Innocent and Morrisons join royal baby no. 2 celebrations, Brand Republic

Posted by Robin McCrink