Oh my gosh. It’s already April? How is this year going by so quickly? Well, maybe that’s a good thing. Tax season is just about to wrap up, which is definitely a good thing, and the weather is about to get a lot warmer. It’s also the end of the first quarter, which is usually a good time to sigh, relax a little, and look back and take account of some of the best content marketing examples in 2018 thus far. Observe:
Company blogs are a great way to drive traffic, speak to customers, and maintain authority in your industry. Slack, the productivity app-slash-virtual office-slash-timewasting chatroom, has one called Several People Are Typing, named after the brilliant and exciting phenomenon that occurs when someone has just dropped a particularly spicy hot take in Slack and everyone is hammering at their keyboards to respond. When that happens, it’s not just “Matt is typing” or “Brenda is typing” you see below the text input box—it’s several people, all in a mad dash to react.
So, it makes sense Slack would take that sense of energy and dynamism and channel it into a well-planned series of blog posts that inform customers of new apps and tools, remind users of fundamental features, suggest work culture should change to embrace more friction, and share stories of how Slack has made remote work more viable. Another recent post goes behind the scenes to detail how Slack localizes its language for different countries. Basically, Slack has got the company blog part of content marketing down pat, with well-researched and informative writing that’s valuable for users and potential clients.
BMW and National Geographic have been airing an online series called Behind the Shot, about NatGeo photographers and the methods they use to capture amazing images of uncommon subjects. There are four episodes up now, and they’re all worth watching, not just for the beautiful imagery and compelling topics, but the surprising amount of candor from the photographers. But to trap the truth on celluloid, I suppose you’ve got to be pretty honest yourself, huh? The latest episode, about a horse rescue in upstate New York, where they let the animals—outcasts, really, because they don’t listen to human riders, or they’re injured—roam free is especially sensitive.
Oh, yeah, and there’s a fancy new car, the BMW X3 Sports Activity Vehicle, in there somewhere, too. BMW practically started the modern concept of content marketing with its The Hire online series of videos starring Clive Owen as a James Bond-like courier whose chase vehicle of choice was a—yup—BMW. These captivating NatGeo mini-documentaries continue that tradition of hiding the sponsored product in plain sight with slickly produced, intelligent entertainment.
Ready Player One opens this weekend. Based on the New York Times bestseller, the story follows a boy stuck in a dystopian junk future where the only escape is into a nostalgia-laden virtual reality world. There, he cavorts with every recognizable pop culture geek icon, from the Ninja Turtles to Lara Croft. In other words, it’s #brand heaven. So it’s weird that there hasn’t been a whole lot of branded content or content marketing for the movie—directed by master filmmaker Steven Spielberg—to speak of beyond some poorly Photoshopped nostalgia-baiting posters.
Except for Carl’s Jr. In a series of tweets, the fast food chain has been thinking aloud about renaming its Charboiled Slider to SpielBurger in honor of Ready Player One. Get it? Of course you do. The dad joke-caliber charade continued when the Man Who Made E.T. himself nixed the idea in a short video on the Amblin Studios account. He liked the burger, but not the name. Hm. Was The Color Purple director really upset over a silly sandwich homage? Not likely. The company that owns Carl’s Jr. has a Ready Player One licensing agreement. Staged? Sure. But it got folks and multiple publications talking about it.
Avengers: Infinity War
Marvel used social media in a more affable way for this bit of content marketing. On Twitter, the Marvel Studios account and Iron Man himself Robert Downey Jr. went back and forth over the upcoming crossover, Avengers: Infinity War. Downey wanted to know if he could see the anticipated flick a week earlier, on April 27th instead of May 4th. After some banter, the studio obliged, and Mr. Stark was pleased. Yes, this exchange exists on the weird bubble of #brands coming to life, but in this case it worked perfectly.
By leveraging the authority and follower count (over 10 million!) of its lead star, Downey Jr., Marvel was able to get a potentially confusing message across in a casual and easy way—just two people talking. Well, one mega celebrity and one hyper successful film studio social media account. Now everyone knows about the release date change and fans are even more head-over-iron-suit-heels excited for the ultimate Avengers flick, as if that were even possible.