Despite all the advice available on the do’s and don’ts of content marketing, more often than not there’s a vital element missing from the conversation; the importance of culture, and how brands define and choose their positioning within it.

Recent interviews with Diageo’s James Thompson, Unilever’s Keith Reed and GE’s Jason Hill have been full of the virtues of content-based communications: Creating epic experiences, ensuring ‘publishing’ excellence, the need for personalisation, connectedness, striving for greater brand engagement. The ultimate goal of this approach, according to RKCR/Y&R’s chairman Mark Roalfe, is to establish ‘kinship’ between the brand, its role models and the consumer. Very well said.

FROM CONTENT MARKETING TO ‘CULTURED COMMUNICATIONS’    Many brands find the idea of making consistently great content extremely intimidating. I believe it’s better to approach the conversation from a slightly different perspective: Namely by first considering the need for a targeted, cultured communications strategy. By identifying, and then establishing, the brand’s desired position within culture, it becomes easier to choose suitable activations, helping it earn the authority to expound (shared) values from within it.

We’re living in an ‘experience economy’, driven by millenials who eschew flashy cars and the desire to ask questions of film and pop stars, preferring to take a ‘selfie’ to record shareable proof of their presence at a certain place or event, or meeting with a VIP.

Genuine Kinship

The Red Bull Music Academy: (seemingly) effortless kinship

It’s therefore no surprise that brands like Red Bull and Converse are thriving: They’ve consistently operated from the cultural spaces they strategically defined. Their involvement with authentic, cultural experiences and the resulting shareable content they ‘publish’ appears to be completely natural within their media mindset.

PURCHASES PINNED ON PASSION    Recent research from Google found that consumers now make purchase decisions in the same way they consume content, and choose brands that engage their passion and interests.

A carefully thought-out cultured communications strategy will deliver a deeper and more genuine cultural immersion, embedding your brand in the lifestyle environment of your target audience.  Once there, brand’s can more naturally facilitate people’s access and enjoyment to this culture, ultimately making content marketing choices simpler (and probably more effective), while helping to develop kinship with the people who might just love the brand.

Brands therefore need to acquire the knowledge and expertise relevant to the cultural mediums they’re operating in. No longer is it sufficient to simply book a buzz band, or make a one-off movie with a hot director; all your activations require an authentic cultural context, or risk being seen as tokenistic.

Some global brands are beginning to sense this: I especially like Bombay Sapphire’s “Imagination Series” partnership with the Tribeca Film festival, and the fact that Vans have recently expanded their ‘House of Vans’ activities to the UK. Many brands worry that they lack the ‘cool’ to have an effective entertainment strategy, but I contest this. American Express’ US-based  ‘Unstaged’ series is creating unique and remarkable partnerships between film and music talent, while O2’s historic involvement with the Wireless festival was a game-changer for the brand.  Cultured communications don’t have to cost the earth, either: The cosmetic brand Lush simply commissioned a series of rather wonderful bespoke compositions for their spa outlets.

Remember, all the world’s a stage…….

‘Room 8’ from Bombay Sapphire’s ‘Imagination Series’ won the BAFTA for best British Short Film


ABOUT GENUINE: Genuine has been helping brands and agencies make better use of entertainment and music culture since 2010. Our clients include; Burberry, Bosco Di Ciliegi, Jack Daniel’s, Jägermeister, Levi’s, Sennheiser, Splendid Communications, Starwood Hotel Group, Stella McCartney, Unity, Virgo Health and Viva Beverages.


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