Whenever anyone points to branded content as the big new thing in marketing, I have three words for them: Super Bowl ads.
An entire segment of the population watches the game exclusively for the ads. Including me in those years when the game doesn't involve the Giants, the Packers, the Eagles, or the Falcons (such as last night--at least until it got interesting after the blackout).
According to Wikipedia, super content in Super Bowl ads started to emerge in the 1970s with the classic Master Lock ad, as well as Coca-Cola's "Mean Joe Greene" ad. Then the folks at Apple brought us "1984" and it was game over for lame advertising in front of the biggest TV audience of the year.
Now with the advent of self-publishing, similarly great content doesn't need to reach the biggest audience, it just needs to connect with the most important audience, prospects who can be converted to customers.
Here's an "ad" for Mr. Steam home steam showers you won't see in today's USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter, that stays true to the power of short-form, entertaining storytelling:
In my house, we enjoyed two new social media twists in last night's content:
1. Pepsi hijacking the "Coke Chase" ad with it's own video. Not the most entertaining of videos, but intriguing in the sense of how self-published content creates buzz and talk value without that pesky Super Bowl ad price tag. (And late-breaking shoutout to Coke for a rebuttal video to Pepsi's rebuttal video, issuing in a new era of cola content wars with this memorable copy: "...it doesn't take an esteemed actor to see that sequels never surpass the real thing.")
2. Also, the Oreo brand team, on the ball as the lights went out in New Orleans, serving up this tasty nugget on Twitter and Facebook:
One thing is true for all these examples: it takes talent. For every CFO who believes a $15/hr copywriter is all it takes to fill a blog, there are forward-looking brands who know the true value of investing in good content.