The FIFA World Cup is underway in Brazil, and hearts have been broken as favorites are heading home as we ramp up to the final. Coca-Cola, and it’s Content 2020 strategy, however, is cleaning up on the pitch this World Cup.
Think Global, Act Local
Coca-Cola has stuck to one theme throughout all of their diverse and multilingual marketing efforts for the World Cup, which is to bring the immensity of the tournament to individual soccer fans. For the Happiness Flag art project, fans were asked to submit a photo of themselves to Coca-Cola’s international design team generated a massive physical flag unfurled during the opening ceremonies; and also a fully interactive digital flag that users could explore, search and share on their own social media. The flag initiative allowed for a combination of content marketing, display advertising and social media marketing all in one stylish swoop.
Being A Member Of The Tribe
Why go with the personal fan, instead of Pele? Coca-Cola’s Content 2020 strategy is all about finding the “fat and fertile” story that enriches personal engagement with their brand. Want to know the best pubs worldwide to catch the game? Coke’s got you covered. Waiting for the game to start? Kick your friends’ butts at World Cup trivia through Coca-Cola’s addictive app. These pieces engage fans with Coca-Cola’s content and brand beyond the game itself, inserting Coke into the fan’s lived experience of the tournament. (My recommendation for Russia 2018? Smartphone bracket challenge.)
They’re Risk Takers
Coca-Cola literally went all over the world to find killer content for the World Cup. Want to hear about Brazil’s blind footballers and their encounter with the iconic World Cup trophy? How about South Africa’s game-on grandmas and their passion for soccer? But the most audacious choice was featuring Süleyman Koç, the Bundesliga midfielder who mounted a comeback after being incarcerated for robbery and battery. Koç’s story of finding redemption swerves sports clichés. He isn’t representing Germany at the World Cup; but he is representing the best of soccer.
Well played, Coca-Cola.
Photo courtesy of Artur Malinowski. See more of his awesome photography here.
My manager shuffled some papers and looked over at my eager face. Two weeks into my new job, I was finally being allowed to draft my first blog post (published authorhood, here I come!).
“Jane, it doesn’t matter what you write. All that matters is that we throw something up there twice a day and that it gets out on Facebook.”
I labored under this dictum for years, and I’ve come to one conclusion. It’s bull.
We talk a lot about feeding the content beast, SEO and gaming social media to maximize your reach. These are all important aspects of your content marketing strategy, but the MOST important thing is simply to have something worthwhile to say.
Many marketers ask about the best way to be heard in an ever-multiplying content universe. Look at your signal-to-noise ratio. Content is not so much a product as an experience. Recent changes in Google and Facebook’s algorithms have prioritized human interaction; your content should reflect that. We have just emerged from a time where high frequency posting garnered the most attention. If we are in the beginning of a paradigm shift towards quality over quantity, you need to start building your reputation now.
I’m not advocating that you start drafting posts worthy of Longreads. I’m saying that you should work towards being a trusted source of inspiration. A post doesn’t have to be long; it does need to build your brand. Does this content further your brand story? If your blog post popped into a prospect’s smartphone, would it be read and remembered? I don’t know about you, but I’ve read a lot of forgettable blog posts.
So don’t feed the beast. Tame the beast. This may require more thinking and fewer listicles, but I bet you’re OK with that. It’s a small price to pay for your audience’s trust.
People love superheroes. These powerful beings have moved from crushing criminal masterminds to crushing box office records, with audiences lining up for the latest Marvel instalment. Many of these films have sought to portray their title characters’ origin stories, underlining the importance of their beginnings to the audience. The origin story provides context for the motivations and actions of the superhero to audiences. We have empathy for a wealthy playboy billionaire because we know the young boy standing over his murdered parents. We’re proud of the geeky college boy bitten by a radioactive spider as he grows into his superpowers and gets the girl.
I love this particular origin story. A young man drops out of college since his parents can’t really afford the tuition. He drifts aimlessly, occasionally spending time picking apples and returning bottles for money. He drops into classes at his old school, developing a interest in arcane subjects, like calligraphy. Searching for something more, the young man travels to India, living in an ashram for several months. He meditates and trains. Now sporting a monastic shaven head, the young man returns home, meeting a young geek who shares his sense of alienation. As their relationship develops, the geek shows the young man his new invention; an invention of such extreme power that the young man quickly realizes that they can transform the world with this device. He knows that his whole life has built towards bringing this machine to prominence. (more…)
In her latest book, All In, Arlene Dickinson of CBC’s Dragon’s Den and The Big Decision breaks away from the herd and presents a business book that is honest and personal about what it’s really like to be an entrepreneur: “Entrepreneurship isn’t a job. It’s a demanding, rewarding, scary, thrilling and ultimately all-encompassing lifestyle,” she writes. She shows that business isn’t a walk in the park through personal stories from several entrepreneurs who have made it, risking big to win big.
There’s few people we know who embody Arlene’s profile of an entrepreneur more than Echo Memoirs president Samantha Reynolds — so much that you can read about Sam in All In. She’s one of the entrepreneurs featured in the book. Dickinson really captures Sam’s drive and dedication to her business, and the portrait is inspiring.
We’ve only flipped through the pages to find mentions of Sam and Echo, but are excited to read the rest of the book soon. Arlene’s tell-it-like-is style is engrossing, and the stories will lend encouragement and wisdom to anyone with a zeal to make it on their own.
Learn more about All In by Arlene Dickinson (HarperCollins, 2013)
We recently came across a bizarre piece of history in the world of marketing: Industrial musicals. Rediscovered by Late Show with David Letterman writer Steven Young, the shows were commissioned by large corporations to boost morale, educate staff, and, essentially, build employee engagement. Broadway professionals — legends even — were hired to write and perform these works. For instance, John Kander and Fred Ebb, the team behind the music of Cabaret and Chicago, also wrote music for the Fifth Electric Utility Executives Conference.
Usually, the songs would be performed only once. Young told NPR, “They were never for the public to hear; they were only to educate and entertain and motivate the sales force so they would leave the business meeting going out revved up to sell more bathtubs or typewriters or tractors or insurance plans, or what have you. …”
The history of industrial musicals is detailed in Young’s book Everything’s Coming Up Profits: The Golden Age of Musicals. The photo-illustrated book is sure to be a hilarious look at the bizarre works of art that result when the corporate and entertainment worlds collide (see below: “’79 Fever”, written for a department of Westinghouse: “Good morning dance fans, welcome again to ’79 Fever, the world’s first sales meeting with a disco beat. There’s not one other office furniture manufacturer that hustled through ’78 like we did…” )
In the future, you might not buy a book in the classic codex form. (We don’t want to believe it either because we really, really love books.) Still, I think the cover will survive. I was recently at the Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon, and it struck me how designers can be the most influential marketers of books. In a building filled with more than a million books, how does one choose? I was drawn to the books wrapped in an arresting photo or illustration, or covers with an eye-catching title presented in inventive typography.
Though Echo is a publisher that’s invested in telling stories and preserving cultures (family, corporate or organizational), we’re no slouches in the design department either. What consistently impressed visitors to our old studio was the showcase of books we’ve published. They are striking. The old clichéd advice “Don’t judge a book by its cover” isn’t something that Echo’s designers care too much for. They know that a great story deserves to look its best.
One of my favourite sites for design inspiration while I was in school was the Book Cover Archive. While it hasn’t been updated in some time, it catalogues some of the best work in the past four years. Its focus is American editions, but many international editions appear, too.
You can browse the covers by author, genre, publisher, year, and even typeface.
And here’s a little bit of company trivia: When we were deciding what to salvage from our reference library of arts, culture and business books, the only thing we took was Chip Kidd: Book One, a retrospective of the rock-star book designer’s work from 1986 to 2006.
We ditched the books, but a book of covers was worth saving.
In the past several years, marketers—especially those of the digital tribe—have latched onto storytelling as strategy: Forbes says, “Facebook Timeline For Brands: It’s About Storytelling” and social-media blogger Mitch Joel says, “You can’t throw a Digital Marketing Strategist without hearing the words ‘transmedia’ or ‘digital storytelling.’”
In an world of information overload, advertisers are latching on to what publishers have known all along: if you want to influence or engage your audience, you need to tell them a story. A story with meaning to them.
But don’t take our word for it: Scientists are starting to come around to understanding how intrinsic storytelling is to the human experience, and tracing it to our biology, no less. A recent Scientific American blog post explains the essential nature of storytelling. It was long thought that our ability to connect meaning with outside stimulus lay in the connective tissue between the left and right brain—or, the creative and rational sides.
However, a brain-surgery patient in 1960—and many after—have shown that we’ll tell stories to the end. We’re hard wired to tell stories to ourselves to give our lives purpose and meaning. The “…left hemisphere, our left-brain interpreter, [is] driven to seek causes and explanations—even for things that may not have them, or at least not readily available to our minds—in a natural and instinctive fashion,” the Scientific American article says. “Our minds form cohesive narratives out of disparate elements all the time: one of the things we are best at is telling ourselves just so stories about our own behavior and that of others. If we’re not sure, we make it up – or rather, our brain does, without so much as thinking about asking our permission to do so.”
Stories are the only way we know to make sense of the world. Powerful tales, they are. They created our science, our history, our arts, and now our commerce.
It was only natural.
Year by year, more companies are embracing the power of narrative to connect with customers. Even in the age of Twitter and Facebook, when the most successful digital marketers are asked what’s the secret to their success, they always return to the word storytelling. It’s always the more effective and quickest way to hook someone’s interest.
That’s why we’ve discovered that so many business blogs are telling marketers and communications professionals to stop ignoring the “About Us” page on their websites. Once the ghetto of the tired company mission statement, the page is now the space where CEOs spin yarns, and capture the imaginations of their current and future customers.
Organic yogurt company Stonyfield Farm has filled their “About Us” section with stories about their history, mission, their unique yogurt-tub lids, their suppliers—the farmers, and their “CE-Yo,” Gary Hirshberg. Why does it matter if the company’s chief is a “windmill-maker” if you’re in the market for some yogurt? Because now you know the person you’re buying yogurt from. A good story made Hirshberg into a person, not just a name or a face. Though Stonyfield’s yogurt is sold in Walmarts and supermarkets around the world, their online messaging makes the company into a convincing family business.
Hirschberg’s wife, Meg Cadoux Hirshberg, is the author of the Stonyfield’s history online. “The full story” tells of electrical storms, an old wooden boiler and the hand-milking that were the foundation for a wildly successful American business.
Perhaps it’s because Hirschberg’s wife, Meg, is a freelance writer that this company understands that if you want someone to buy yo’ yogurt, a narrative is necessary.
More than a century after Charles H. Beckman founded Red Wing Shoes, the American heritage brand will be showcasing 15 pairs of their boots in a travelling exhibition called “Memoirs, Good Old Boots.”
The boots belong to 15 rugged men with unique, individual stories, among them: two American bikers, a Norwegian fisherman, and a even members of a Swedish rock band. Each pair of shoes will be accompanied by the life stories of their owners.
Red Wing, maybe best known for their collaboration with American apparel brand J. Crew, is a company whose products embody the company’s values of hard work, endurance and quality. From the farm to the office, the boots are made “to perform and outlast.”
“Memoirs” is an original way to communicate the brand values tradition and quality craftsmanship by showing what a product looks like on a personal level. This shoemaker’s marketers understand that things gather important meaning in our lives.
Since we at Echo work with not only photos and letters, but also memorabilia—golf clubs, trophies and pressed flowers—we know stuff keeps memories. After all, what’s an attic of mementos but a treasure trove of stories?