Why Content Should Be Driving Your Media

The media mix has never been noisier. The growing number of brands pouring content into paid, owned and earned channels (and everything in between) has left consumers inundated with messages everywhere they turn. With more competition than ever before, the only content that rises above the noise is the highest quality content: content that your audience connects with in the same way that they would connect with a great song, film, or television series. But producing this type of content is a significant undertaking, and commands an equally strategic investment in how it’s delivered. As a result, brand marketers are developing their content strategies first and then implementing those strategies to drive their media plans. Here are a few breakthrough content strategies where brands have followed this process effectively.

Think like a Hollywood producer. The best content marketing isn’t limited to blog posts and infographics. In 2013, Chipotle released “The Scarecrow,” an animated short film that reveals how industrial food is manufactured and marketed to the lilting sound of Fiona Apple singing “World of Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The video went viral and has had over 12 million views on YouTube to date.



But Chipotle didn’t stop there. Earlier this year, it released “Farmed and Dangerous,” an original television show that aired on Hulu, with four 20-minute episodes exploring the twisted and unsustainable world of industrial agriculture. The original series doesn’t directly promote Chipotle food, but did earn the restaurant notable press coverage and viral buzz.

Stand for something your audience cares about. Knowing its restaurants were a popular late-night destination for Millennials, Taco Bell looked at what else was popular among the after-hours culture -- in this case, music -- to come up with its “Feed the Beat” campaign. Feed the Beat gives $500 Taco Bell gift cards to 100 emerging bands each year (so they can eat while they’re touring) and then showcases those bands at SXSW. This isn’t just lip service -- Taco Bell is actually breaking indie bands. For example, Passion Pit was featured in a Taco Bell television commercial that was then used to pitch the band to “Saturday Night Live.” They were accepted and five months later, Passion Pit played Madison Square Garden.

Taco Bell then worked with Digitas to create a “rockumentary” about the band’s road to success called “Hello Everywhere” and released it at SXSW in 2013. The 51-minute film also featured indie act Wildcat! Wildcat!, another Feed the Beat band who had driven to SXSW in a van in the hopes of catching their big break. To date, the film has had over 500,000 views on YouTube.

Make your audience a part of your message. Consumers trust earned media over any other form of brand content. According to Nielsen, it’s one of the most effective forms of content for driving purchase intent, with 84% of consumers taking action based on word-of-mouth and 70% taking action based on consumer opinions posted online.

When Sony PlayStation (a client) launched PS4 last fall, the brand wanted to capture the pent-up excitement of its biggest fans and leverage it to reach new gamers. To do this, the brand built a social hub at that curated what fans were posting in real-time about PS4, paired with exclusive PlayStation content. Because the social hub consisted almost entirely of original fan content, it evolved as the campaign did, showcasing everything from fan excitement leading up to the launch to PlayStation loyalists waiting outside of Best Buys in the freezing cold to get their hands on the new device. PlayStation drove all of its media traffic to this social hub, which served as a powerful gateway to its e-commerce site.

As more and more brands get into the publishing game, the increased focus on content is shifting what drives marketing programs. Instead of media-driven campaigns, brands are starting with strong content strategies and then letting that influence their distribution decisions. When you’re breaking new bands, filming an original series or letting your brand advocates tell your story for you, it’s important to identify what content will truly connect with your audience first -- and build your media plan around that.

1 comment about "Why Content Should Be Driving Your Media".
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  1. Justin Belmont from Prose Media, July 7, 2014 at 11:27 a.m.

    This is a wonderful article. We at love reading about how content really helps businesses grow and succeed. It's so important to reach out to your audience in the way that your examples show, so thank you for emphasizing that. The better you know your audience, the easier it will be to provide the kind of creative media that will be unique enough to stand out from everything else out there.

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