In this week in 1930, following a desperate search by the radio industry for a magic bullet to increase advertising revenue, the first soap opera was born. The industry managed to convince manufacturers of household goods to sponsor programming content that appealed to their primary consumers and “Painted Dreams” debuted on WGN in Chicago – its first sponsor was no other than Colgate-Palmolive.
It didn’t take long for Proctor & Gamble to jump in and up the game with its own innovation – producing and sponsoring its own branded programming content as consumers migrated from radio to TV. That run lasted 80 years and sparked a sudden and seismic shift in the way consumers digested content.
Fast forward to the present, and technology has forced marketers to become both publishers and innovators of branded content to keep up and stay engaged with a customer whose primary screen of interest now changes by the minute.
Chief among them are the hot Cyber Security brands that have stormed onto the global technology stage – in such masse that they are desperately seeking a way to differentiate themselves and appeal to their primary customers. And just like P&G did in the 1930s – they too are producing and sponsoring their own branded content. And given the endless number of channels their customers can chose to digest it, there is no shortage of compelling examples.
Identity solutions leader Lexis Nexis’ “Fraud of the Day” franchise hits it on the nose with breach stories that keep every potential customer of theirs wide awake at night and staring at the ceiling. A simple yet brilliant concept to keep their brand in front of them daily in a contextually relevant way.
Intel & Toshiba pushed the boundaries of branded content with “The Power Inside” a blockbuster film that combined social media and technology to create an immersive, participatory experience for their primary consumer to experience their technology against the backdrop of a full feature motion picture.
Palo Alto Networks has taken a less risky, more proactive and automated approach of creating a library of branded content that they license to partners and re-sellers to co-brand and amplify their industry focused solutions through what we like to call “social shrapnel” to extend the reach of their message.
McAfee went much farther than a library…they hired Bluetext to build an entire virtual agency on The Mall in Washington – 10 years into the future. “Future Agency” – the rich, immersive and interactive experience we created is a branded “house of content” that their primary consumer can literally fly through to access all things McAfee – branded content so appealing that it drove average time of engagement beyond the six minute mark.
What does this all mean for the modern marketer in today’s increasingly digital environment? That branded content has worked effectively for nearly 100 years to engage the primary consumers it was intended to appeal to, enhanced, of course, by the technology that takes that marketing one step farther by allowing us to interact with it and share it to the friends and colleagues we think it will most appeal to. The only thing that’s changed is how they digest it.
As you plan your marketing strategy to drive visibility and demand for your brand in the red hot and highly competitive cyber security space, branded content can and should play a critical role. Even more critical is finding an agency partner with the creative firepower to “paint your dream” and drive customer engagement with a truly differentiated and professionalized branded content experience.