According to a chart from Nielsen, at this time last year Americans were spending over 11 hours a day looking at electronic media. The bulk of that time was spent on more established mediums like Television and Radio, with Internet usage and mobile device usage making up a combined 2.5+ hours. If you assume the average person is awake for 18 hours a day, that means that the average person spends more than 60% of their day consuming electronic media.
It’s no surprise, then, that as more consumers spend their waking hours taking in media on an ever-increasing number of platforms, that brands are spending more time producing for those platforms. What is a surprise, though, is how well some are doing it. In the current climate of app fads and the new strategies and vocabulary that comes with it, brands have long sought the help of native content creators to do their work for them. Instagram influencers and YouTube stars, in particular, have galvanized new mediums for brands in ways that the brands themselves simply wouldn’t have had the time to learn. Some brands, however, are catching up in big ways with native advertising, or advertorial content, that competes.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label is a whiskey that sells for just under $200 per bottle, and with a number of more affordable varieties under the same brand name, Johnnie Walker was looking for a way to increase the sales of its high end label.
What they came up with is a, so far, two part YouTube series called The Gentleman’s Wager. The first video was over 6 minutes long. The second one nearly doubled in length. The brand recruited Jude Law and Giancarlo Giannini to star in the series, and crafted a story that perfectly personified the Blue Label lifestyle: rare cars, Mediterranean coastlines, quippy banter and rakish clothing. It was an answer to the question in many consumer’s heads: “Why spend more when there’s a cheaper option?” The videos breathe life into an otherwise stilted product, and sell the story of it better than any tagline could.
Not every brand can foot the bill to bring Jude Law in, but stemming from the evolution of social media there is an extensive tier system of new personalities that bring varying degrees of exposure with them. The Arizona Tourism board tapped into this type of strategy in their recent AZ Expedition campaign.
Flipping the usual influencer model on it’s head, they put the social media stars in front of the camera and showed their readers how the people they follow online explored and experienced Arizona. In tandem with Conde Nast Traveler, Bon Appetite, and Golf Digest, they pulled out all the stops to portray that ultimate trip to Arizona. By focusing the content, and the entire domain they created for the content to live on, on the story of the 5 travelers they showed potential visitors what it would be like to visit, rather than explaining it to them. Just like with Mr. Law and his antique cars, the consumer could see themselves in the story however aspirational it may be.
For some brands, long form content production is not in the realm of possibility. Luckily, as UPS demonstrates, the infographic is still alive and well. Placed on FastCompany’s website, the graphic illustrates “the impact of industry changes and challenges on the high-tech supply chain, as well as perspectives and plans for the future.” Stats and figures abound, with the ad language tucked away cleverly in the green boxes.
This piece of content does not put the viewer into the brand’s story like the previous examples, but it imparts useful information, is attractively designed, and fits well within the website it was placed on. That last point is important, because as successful as this info graphic was in FastCompany, it wouldn’t have worked as well in a trade publication, a shipping supplies catalog, or Twitter, all other platforms that this same target consumer could be expected to consume.
The strategy employed by all three of these brands, and others producing advertorial content like them, is fairly simple. They let the content represent the brand, and not the other way around. Brands have the opportunity to create top notch content when things like story, personality, and design are allowed to personify a product, or a destination, or a service.