During 2014 we tried to give you a quick round up of some of the best branded content released each month. So as we head into 2015 its perhaps only fitting we give you a quick recap of some of the best branded content for the year as a whole - well, at least the ones we enjoyed the most!
GE: “Enhance Your Lighting”
When we look back on content marketing in 2014, there’s a good chance the first thing that pops into our head will be Jeff Goldblum in ’70s loungewear, shilling for light bulbs.
In September, GE hired comedy duo Tim & Eric to produce a masterpiece starring Goldblum as he pitches the incredible value of the long-lasting Link lightbulb. The clip has nearly 2 million views on YouTube, and is one of the rare pieces of content marketing with serious rewatch value.
But this one might top them all. Come for the lightbulbs, stay for a half-naked Jeff Goldblum playing a grand piano.
Purina: “Dear Kitten” Series
Purina’s robust content team creates hundreds of content per day, but the most impressive pieces are undoubtedly from the hilarious “Dear Kitten” series, created in partnership with BuzzFeed. I’m pretty sure every brand publisher on earth wishes that they had the liberty to just say, “Screw it,” and have their content strategy focus on cats. Considering the current state of the Internet, it’s almost an unfair advantage.
But when you have that kind of advantage, you’ve got to milk it for all its worth, and Purina has done that with the six-video series, which has been viewed nearly 40 million times on YouTube so far this year.
What can content marketing do? Well, it can give us a photo essay on Martha Stewart as shot by Terry Richardson in a glossy magazine that’s distributed in over 40 countries. I’m not sure if that’s necessarily a good thing, but it’s significant nonetheless.
Yes, luxury retailer Net-a-Porter’s Porter magazine is one of the most ambitious pieces of content marketing we’ve seen in some time. It launched in February with supermodel Gisele Bündchen on the cover and spreads featuring Angela Ahrendts and Uma Thurman. However, from an editorial standpoint, the masthead may be even more impressive: Lucy Yeomans, former editor of Harper’s Bazaar UK, serves as Porter’s editor-in-chief.
So when we talk about brands truly taking up the challenge of becoming media companies, we’re talking about companies like Net-a-Porter. After all, Porter’s digital counterpart, The Edit, reaches over 6 million visitors each month.
Lego: The LEGO Movie
New rule: If your content marketing makes over $450 million, you get an automatic spot on the “Best Branded Content of the Year” roundup.
Make no mistake: The LEGO Movie was a savvy piece of branded content. Although LEGO put out a manifesto declaring, “We are not making a commercial for the toys,” the brand was an integral part of the filmmaking process, reports Fast Company, and exerted extensive approval over the content.
The result was arguably the most successful piece of branded content of all time, or, as director Phil Lord described it, “a soulful cash grab.”
Honda: “The Other Side”
When we came across Honda’s “The Other Side” video, it was sent it to me with a simple note: “This is the coolest shit I’ve ever seen in my whole damn life.”
He wasn’t being hyperbolic.
Created by Wieden+Kennedy London, “The Other Side” is a “double-sided story” on YouTube—when you hold down the “R” key, the film flips between two parallel storylines about a dad living a double life on Halloween.
It’s masterfully crafted and completely trippy. What’s even more amazing is how strongly it connects back to the product, with the story’s two sides cleverly tying back to the Civic and its sporty counterpart, the Civic Type R. Go to Honda’s YouTube page and watch it right now.
Microsoft: Microsoft Stories
Microsoft isn’t exactly known as an edgy, innovative brand, but its content marketing certainly is. It’s quite possible no company is better at telling stories about the unique projects its own employees are taking on, from fighting cyber criminals to an industrial hub of experimental design that’s straight out of a sci-fi movie.
This year, though, Microsoft has been covering its own fascinating work with a deft touch. The design of Microsoft Stories is sleek and splendid; the homepage features big, vibrant images; and the article pages echo Medium’s design, with some “Snow Fall” thrown in for tasteful measure. Expect a lot of other tech companies to copy this approach in 2015.
Electrolux: “The Next Black”
The single best piece of content marketing about fashion in 2014 didn’t come from a fashion brand. Instead, it came from an appliance company.
Unexpectedly, Electrolux—a company that primarily manufactures household appliances like washing machines—made a stunning 46-minute documentary about the future of fashion that focuses on technological innovations like wearable technology, eco-friendly materials, and even clothing grown from living organisms.
“The washing machine industry isn’t exactly sexy, so they decided to focus on the clothes that people put into their machines rather than the machines themselves,”explained Philip Marthinsen, head of business and strategy at digital agency House of Radon, which helped create the film.
Original list compiled by Joe Lazauskas at Contently.