This article is part of our July series about the state of media and entertainment. Click here for more.
Consumers’ ability to share their stories with the world every day on multiple channels and platforms has led to the democratization of publishing.
And where consumers go, so do brands.
From short films to magazines to social video and more, brands have turned into content creators in their own right, competing for consumers’ time and attention--not just their wallets.
Below, we take a look at six brands that have successfully made the move from selling to telling, doing so in unique and interesting ways.
When most people think of Grey Goose, they think cocktails. But that’s not the only place where the global spirits connoisseur excels. Its content marketing efforts are vast, but the highlight is the brand’s video strategy, in which it shows that it is also a content creator.
In March, Grey Goose partnered with Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx to launch “Off Script,” a nine-part digital series in which he has one-on-one conversations with Hollywood darlings, such as Jeremy Renner, Vince Vaughn, Denzel Washington, and Gabrielle Union.
Grey Goose first entered the brand-as-publisher arena with the hit series “Iconoclasts,” launched in partnership with Sundance Channel. With “Off Script,” Grey Goose is taking on a true production role, taking part in the series’ entire creation and execution. In a press release announcing the series, Grey Goose said it hopes that the series will “spark culturally relevant conversations that galvanize audiences through subjects that are universally relatable.”
The content pairs great with a Grey Goose martini.
Airbnb is certainly a major disruptor to the travel and hospitality space, making it easier than ever before to find your home away from home when traveling. But beyond helping travelers find and book where to stay, the marketplace is also working with Hearst on “Airbnb Mag.” And get this: It’s in print.
Oh, the irony of a digital-only company going old school with a print publication. The stories and tips in the magazine, which also has a digital edition, are hyperlocal but at the same time universal, according to the “About Me” section. The stories aim to inspire readers to “unleash their inner explorer” or “indulge in sweet serenity.”
The difference between Airbnb and other travel publications? The human element, according to an interview with Hearst Magazines chief content officer Joanna Coles. Airbnb Mag doesn’t just depict scenic views. The travel stories are about real life from real people.
Speaking of other travel publications, fast-growing luggage brand Away last year debuted its own print travel magazine, “Here.” Available for purchase online, at select Away stores, and inside every Away suitcase sold, the quarterly magazine “is our way of experiencing the world through (and with) everyone else out there,” according to the company.
Bigger picture: The magazine serves as a way for Away to extend the brand beyond its core business and position itself as a travel company.
“We see the long-term potential for Away to be much, much more than just selling luggage,” said Jen Rubio, Away’s co-founder and creative director, in an interview with Inc.
What happens when employee relations and marketing work in tandem? A match made in heaven, if Harley-Davidson’s “Find Your Freedom” effort is any indication.
Harley-Davidson is currently on the lookout for paid interns to act as digital content creators. Eight interns will be taught to ride a Harley and asked to take a riding adventure while chronicling everything on social media platforms, including Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.
The outcome? While it’s still up in the air--the interns are just starting their summer program with the brand--we do expect to read about some pretty rad experiences.
Industry spectators say that GoPro has “conquered” YouTube. Its channel on the social video platform features first-person video footage. The majority of the content, however, is not coming from GoPro but instead from the people who own their own GoPro cameras.
Boasting over 5.7 million subscribers on YouTube, the majority of submitted user-generated content focuses on travel and sports. The company also actively engages with people who comment on the videos.
Check out one of its most watched videos below, which has accumulated more than 46 million views to date.
Following the success of its YouTube channel, GoPro expanded its user-generated content strategy to Instagram and Twitter, where it also posts photos and videos from customers using their cameras.
Equinox Fitness has its own fitness and wellness online publication, “Furthermore.” Structured much like a typical editorial operation, the digital content hub has an editor in chief (Liz Miersch, a former fitness editor at Self magazine). It has nine full-time employees, including three editors, and it is also working with over 20 freelance contributors.
But the stories on the site don’t focus on Equinox. They focus on culturally relevent topics pertaining to health and wellness, such as “The Pregnant Woman's Guide To Nutrition,” “Packing A Healthy Picnic,” and healthy meal-prep ideas.
What’s interesting is that many “brand as publisher” plays come ad-free (besides house ads). But Equinox is trying to monetize its site. Its first advertising partner was Smartwater, for which it created an interactive native ad. After users took a quiz on the site, the native ad served up a unique inspiration board based on their health-related interests and goals. Equinox sells and manages the advertising for “Furthermore" in-house, carefully selecting brands and working directly with companies to craft campaigns.