Think of your marketing campaign as a conference: a place where people can learn something new, make connections, and be entertained, all courtesy of your brand. Every good conference features a keynote speech designed to highlight the event's overarching theme. It's up to the speaker to awe and amaze in the name of the conference itself.
In the case of a campaign, your keynote speech is your branded content. It's high profile, and high impact. It has broad appeal. In other words, it's your opportunity to show audiences what your brand is capable of doing online.
With so many options at our disposal, though, finding the right fit can be tough. Is a video the best choice for your brand, or would you be better served by a mobile game? In order to employ the right strategy, you first have to know your candidates.
For brand marketers, this has been the year of the story. Storytelling as a means of building customer affinity and connecting with consumers can take many forms, but by far the most popular is the branded video. Bounty and Cole Haan are among the companies that have developed videos to showcase their brands in the context of interesting and engaging stories.
Some are so well versed in this content marketing strategy that their stories have become a destination in their own right. Consider Patagonia, which in addition to producing branded videos also posts text-based stories to its brand site. In a section called Field Reports consumers can find short personal narratives by adventurers and athletes. Recently, the brand drove email subscribers to "a short story about secret spots and paying your dues." The narrative, called Stash, was penned by a ski enthusiast and describes a favorite mountain run.
This approach works well for brands with products that relate to a particular lifestyle -- especially when that lifestyle and those who live it are likely to produce good anecdotes. If your brand is used by professional cooks, sports enthusiasts, new mothers, or fashionistas and your products are with them when they're "in the field," you have at your disposal an excess of interesting narratives that you can elevate to keynote status in your marketing campaign.
It's getting increasingly difficult to tell the in-theater blockbusters from the branded films. Both can attract the highest caliber of talent. Both are designed to entertain. We've seen many great examples of branded films as keynote campaign content this year, from Coca-Cola's Polar Bears short to Infiniti's interactive film Deja View. These projects showcase their brands by underscoring the way the products make users feel: joyful, impassioned, exhilarated, nostalgic, and every nuanced emotion in between.
Does your brand have an interesting backstory, legacy, image, or corporate mission? Can it be conveyed in an entertaining way? If so, an online film might be the keynote content for you. You don't need the weight of a Hollywood bigwig behind you, just an engaging script that gives consumers a reason to tune in.
Gone are the days when branded games were "Punch the Monkey" pop-up ads. The recent launch of Chipotle's online and mobile game The Scarecrow serves as a reminder of advergaming's potential to keep brands top of mind. Your branded game needn't be overly complex (see Pop-Tarts' Ski Launch game for kids, or Smithsonian Channel's Facebook quiz), but it should be relevant to your audience…something "Punch the Monkey" was not.
Just about any brand can create a Web application, mobile app, online quiz, social media game, or contest to boost consumer engagement. The idea is to deliver a fun and positive experience that they'll associate with your products. As a core piece of campaign content, branded games are well endowed in that they're social, viral, and they have a long shelf life. Advergaming, therefore, can be a smart and malleable investment for brands without the means to produce a video or film.
Strip them down and you'll find that digital marketing campaigns are a collection of messages connected by a common theme. Whatever form it takes, incorporating this kind of branded content into your overall campaign can radically elevate your online event.
After all, nobody forgets the keynote.
Meet Your Favorite ClickZ Contributors
Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
Tessa Wegert is an interactive media strategist with Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy and services agencies, serving such brands as Bioré, Bratz, Food Network, illy, Hunter Douglas, Jergens, and Olympic Paints and Stains. An industry veteran, Tessa has worked in online media buying and planning, marketing, and online copywriting since 1999. She is an active freelance writer specializing in interactive marketing who has contributed to U.S. and Canadian publications, including "USA Weekend Magazine," "Marketing Magazine," "The Globe and Mail," and "The Montreal Gazette." She is frequently quoted as an industry expert and speaks regularly at industry conferences and events.
March 19, 2014