Believe that content marketing arrived with the internet?
Think again. Businesses have been successfully using branded content to market their products for more than a century.
Using Ink To Sell Tractors And Baking Powder
If one man can lay claim to have pioneered content marketing as we know it today it is August Oetker. This German inventor and businessman was the first to offer Baking Powder to private households. Along with breaking into new markets, Oetker also developed a unique way to market his Backin baking powder.
On each packet of Backin powder he added a recipe. By 1911 these recipes were so popular that they were turned into a very successful cookbook. Still published today, this cookbook has now sold more than 19 million copies.
Another early convert to content marketing was agriculture manufacturer John Deere, who in 1895 began publishing a magazine titled “The Furrow”. The goal of the magazine was to help farmers make better use of technology and increase their profits. The Furrow currently reaches 40 different countries and 12 different languages.
The Birth Of The “Soap” Opera
In the 1920’s radio executives were faced with a serious challenge. They wanted to attract new advertisers, but how could they guarantee that their programming would reach the right target market? The answer was to develop daytime serials which would appeal to female homemakers.
Eventually Proctor & Gamble developed its own radio serials, which led to the name “Soap Operas”. When soaps moved from the radio to the TV screen in 50’s and 60’s, they continued to be sponsored by Proctor and Gamble.
G.I. Joe Revolutionizes Toy Marketing
In 1982 Hasbro partnered with Marvel to produce a new comic book for their G.I. Joe toy. This revolutionary piece of marketing used TV commercials to promote the comic book series, which in turn created interested in the toy line. The brilliant comic book writer Larry Hama produced a series which targeted children but took its audience seriously. The comic book was packed with drama, real relationships and was not afraid to kill off major characters to portray the realities of war.
Benetton Implements The Shock Factor
The 90’s saw the innovative COLORS magazine enter the branded content space. The magazine was founded by Olivero Toscani and Tibor Kalman with the broad remit of presenting stories about “the rest of the world”. Each issue of COLOR has a different theme which it then covers from an international perspective.
Born in a period when shock media was coming into style. The magazine featured imagery designed to provoke a response in its readers. COLORS has covered topics including AIDS, racism, the Amazon rainforest and religion.
In the UK branded content has come to dominate the magazine industry. According to a 2014 ABC survey 6 out of the top 10 magazines are from brands with their own magazines. These range from publications from supermarket chain Tesco through to the National Trust.
While many of these magazines are given away for free, this is not always the case. One recent high profile launch this year has been Net-A-Porter with their magazine “Porter”. In their words the magazine delivers “an authoritative global point of view and a bespoke curation of fashion, beauty, travel and culture”. The magazine is available in both print and digital addition, and is accompanied by a shopping app. Porter magazine is priced at £5 an issue putting it on par with other fashion titles such as Vogue.
Red Bull Takes Content Marketing To the Stratosphere
Red Bull has become the brand to follow when it comes to content marketing. Their Stratos project was indisputably the most audacious piece of content marketing in history. The project saw extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner jump 128,100 feet from the stratosphere and in the process break the speed of sound. The project involved years of planning and an estimated $50 million budget.
This amazing spectacle was watched lived by eight million people, and has been seen by hundreds of millions more since. Showing that even if content marketing is more than a century old, it still offers the opportunity to innovate, excite and even inspire.
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