I’ve been talking a lot about “brands becoming broadcasters”, and posting about which global brands have got it right and with Australia’s content industry booming I thought it was time to turn the mirror on Australia and look at local brands who have been bold enough to create their own content platforms.
What was I defining as great branded content? I wasn’t looking at individual campaigns, rather a brand’s commitment and investment to content platforms. I was looking for quantity; not just monthly uploads, but weekly or daily updates. And of course quality; decent production levels, consistent branding and engaging targeted content.
The shortlist I came up with was GE, ANZ, McDonalds and NRMA.
The brand at the top of my list was an easy choice GE* In the last 12 months they’ve released:
GE Reports launched in October 2013, it’s GE’s Australian version of the well renowned US site of the same name. With articles ranging from “Think Differently”, a high-end interview style piece on how a team of archeologists at Macquarie University are bring medical imaging technologies to archaeology. “We got the Power” a short animation about life off the grid, a look at how distributed power is helping remote Australian communities. The articles cover a broad cross spectrum of topics (as do GE’s products) – I’d class the publication as a cross between The Economist and New Scientist. Cleverly, it is also a portal for GE’s extensive catalogue of globally created content and imagery. Saying that, it’s a huge task – bringing such a diverse array of types of video content from all around the globe into one platform. The content’s very diverse – there’s 2d animation, 3d animation, embedded links from their Forward Focus short films and local product films. All of it could be quite simply tightened up by with an overarching look and feel. A simple solution could be to add Australian idents at the front and back. In conclusion, a great effort with some very worthwhile and engaging content.
The “Your Questions” site from Maccas is arguably more of a customer service platform than a content platform persée – but they’ve merged the 2 so cleanly that it’s made the grade for my list. The premise is simple; “Our foods, your questions” – a platform (this includes social channels FB/Twitter etc.) where anyone can ask anything about their food and they (Macca’s) have to answer honestly. The aim being, to dispel any myths about their food. The response is a mixture of text, product photography and video – and it’s a really good mix. I honestly thought their soft serves were made from pig fat – but having watched the video presented by Merimac licensee Jonathan Pitt, I now know this isn’t true! Having the videos presented by real team members across Australia is another stroke of genius – and ensures the answers feel genuine and local. (Although like GE they appear to have made use of global template) Having this consistent presenter style also ticks the brand box. Where it lets itself down I guess, is it focuses on the serious stuff at the expense of any entertainment. It would be nice to see a bit of Chipotle style engagement. This is the type of content they can hang onto for a while.
Another recent release, launched just prior to Easter. BlueNotes is a “publication of ANZ’s newsroom, a forum for insights, opinion, research and news about the economy, financial services, investment and society, from within ANZ and outside.” They’ve got a great team too – and for once it’s an inside job, not managed by an agency – which I think is very interesting. Their editorial team is impressive, meaning their content has that immediate trusted financial journalistic voice – Australian Financial Review associate editor Andrew Cornell and former Private Media and Fairfax publisher Amanda Gome. Mumbrella’s Tim Burrows’ recently reviewed it at length: Link I think Tim is spot on and I’d struggle to add much more other than to question if the site needs a bit more consumer facing content.
An insurance company like NRMA has the rare opportunity to cover just about all topics. They have insurance for cars, property, lifestyle, travel and home. Live4 is the result. It’s an online entertainment style site, with the emphasis on entertainment and utility. A very list orientated site, which is great for the type of content “Top 4 driving songs”, “Top 4 hybrid cars” amongst the best. They’re also prolific posters. Videos are nicely branded and follow a clear look and feel (some of the production feels a little on the cheap side). Unfortunately a lot of the entertainment posts seem a little tenuous. Do I really care what NRMA think are the Top 4 relationship deal breakers? Or what are the Top 4 classic horror films? Or famous 5 year olds? I would argue that they are better off posting less, in favour of content where their opinion really matters. What are the Top 4 things I’m missing here? In a market so flooded with “entertainment news” will this just be lost. Was there a better way to spend that content budget?
So what did the above brands do right?
I think they have definitely cracked the quantity threshold. Content can be a hard sell due to Australia’s small population… less eyeballs, less spend so the argument goes and quality is usually the first casualty.
Brands using their platforms to curate global content is a really clever approach to navigate some of these early issues. McDonalds are producing “cheap” looking yet effective content – that must be driving results – (I bought soft serves for the family the other day). ANZs Blue Notes is probably the publication that seems to have dipped their toe into the most “serious” journalistic end of the content pool. I generally feel NRMA is on the right path but they need to make more considered content.
Which brings me to distribution – are the right audiences finding all this content? I’d love to know if some of the bespoke content articles posted on these platforms are also being used as native advertising in traditional publications like News and Fairfax. Or is this is simply brands attempting to regain control of the content they produce and overcome the obstacle of distribution. Still, some great local efforts from GE, NRMA, McDonalds, and ANZ. I really look forward to seeing their next 12 months of great locally produced content.
*Although we’ve done alot of work for GE – The GE Reports platform is not one of them – we’re not reviewing our own work here!