Conor McNicholas is CEO of content marketing agency AllTogetherNow – a partner in The&Partnership. He was editor of music magazine NME in the guitar-boom of the Noughties and took the NME brand multi-platform, growing NME.com and launching NME Radio, NME TV and other live music, ticketing and merchandising arms. He went on to be editor of TopGear Magazine and TopGear.com at the BBC before joining News International. He was executive content director at the BBDO agency Redwood before launching full-service content agency AllTogetherNow.
Desert Island Content
When celebrating content marketing it’s too easy to end up celebrating digital advertising. Great as that digital advertising might be, true content is work that has value for the audience at its heart as much as value for the brand –a balance of service and messaging.
At ATN we call it ‘shared value’ and it’s one of our core principles. So, the two rules I’ve set myself here are:
1. No digital advertising (Sport England ‘This Girl Can’, Dollar Shave Club ‘Our Blades Are F***ing Great’…)
2. No clichéd choices (Red Bull ‘Jump From Space’, Always ‘Like A Girl’…)
So, in no particular order …
The Michelin Guide – Michelin
This is The Mother of All Content Marketing Campaigns.
It might be well over 100 years old but the strategy and execution are still the high watermark.
Want people to buy more tyres? Get them to wear them out. And how? Give them somewhere to go. Brilliant.
Fix in Six Vines – Lowe’s
Practical, simple, snackable and fun. Each #fixinsix is a genuinely useful tip that also promotes a product. I defy you not to smile. Twitter might say Vine is dead but no-one appears to be listening.
FU2016 – Netflix
A promotion for the fourth season of House of Cards, FU2016 is a mini Frank Underwood Presidential re-election campaign that dominated conversation when broadcast during the Republican nominee debates and was executed across multiple platforms with fabulous craft. It’s just a shame that the final election result turned out to be even more bizarre than the fictional work.
GE Reports – General Electric
“5 Coolest Things on Earth this week”
Content doesn’t have to mean reams of written stuff (and be careful if you take on the challenge) but here is a body of work that gives New Scientist a run for its money and brilliantly positions GE as a passionate innovator. A feature titled ‘Ravenous Artificial Leaves Could Gobble CO2 From Air’? I’m sold.
United Breaks Guitars – Dave Carroll
Sometimes it’s content marketing even if you don’t think it is. After Dave Carroll’s guitar was broken by baggage handlers while taking a United Airlines flight in 2008, his frustration at the company’s failure to resolve it inspired him to pen a song calling them out. Millions watched in days, the media went nuts and it scored an iTunes Chart No.1. It’s now at 16m views and counting, a perennial thorn in the arse of United Airlines.
Behind the scenes at the White House – The White House
It’s the biggest job in the world, the public are endlessly fascinated by what it’s really like and the incumbent has a big job to cement a long-term perception in people’s minds. Obama’s legacy will be framed more by these touching, funny and incredibly dignified images than any of the policies that will soon be unraveled. I could look through these forever.
The Lego Movie – Lego
Is it a movie? Is it marketing? Who cares when it’s this good? And that’s the point.
Argos Black Friday
Forgive me for including one of my own, but the live social platform work the ATN team does on Black Friday for Argos is so good it’s just won a Gold at the International Content Marketing Awards. Agile, responsive and with a clever use of data, it’s smart content that properly sells, properly fast.
Tesco Mobile social chat – Tesco Mobile
It was a golden time as social emerged in the UK, but the lesson here is if you can prick the pompous brand bubble, show some genuine humanity and do it with a bit of wit it’s a thing of joy.
Replay – Gatorade
Talk about creating value – wow. It’s a major brand endeavour, it has real people at the heart of it, it has a clear brand message running through it, and it just makes you feel so damn good. They reunited two rival US football teams with unfinished business from 30 years ago, but that was just the start. Life-changing for those involved. Hats off.