We have spoken in the past of Brand Journalism – the trend of mid–sized and (more often) large companies to hire journalists to cover their company’s news, products, culture and industry. Many of these projects tend to be relatively low-budget, and exist primarily online: they serve as content engines for marketing, i.e., most articles wind up as fodder for the company’s social outposts. These efforts tend to be distinctly branded: separate and subordinate to the master brand, with sidelong disclosures. That’s not to say there aren’t compelling exceptions to that approach. Look at AAA’s mini publishing empire (#client). The branding of each hardcopy magazine as distinctly part of the sterling AAA family is quite clear.
What is interesting to me is that it seems that that “exception” may become more of a rule.
In the past week, our household received two branded magazines. One from Angie’s List (here’s the table of contents):
And another from Nespresso:
Somewhere along the way, the marketers at Angie’s List said to themselves: “People visit us when they have a distinct challenge, and once that challenge is solved (e.g., they found a good plumber), they don’t come back anytime soon; they don’t realize that the breadth of options has dramatically expanded. Meanwhile, those TV ads are expensive. How can we get in front of our subscribers in a way that adds value and ensures they know about the umpteen other reasons they should visit Angie’s List?”
Somewhere along the way, the marketers at Nespresso sat around a conference room table and said, “We are a premium brand; we are the high-end alternative to Keurig machines — but Keurig is not sitting still; they’re producing better machines that could capture current customers looking to upgrade, and/or provide a compelling option to our own customers … How do we impress upon our clientele that this isn’t just about the coffee machine; that it’s about a way of life; about a perspective on how to find and appreciate the finer things in life?”
Intriguingly, I did a quick search of these brands’ sites (and social outposts) and couldn’t track down any of this original content online. Do you consider this a missed opportunity or do you think it lends more of an “exclusive” feel to the hardcopy magazines?
UPDATE: the folks at Angie’s List reached out; you can find many of their articles online. Here are some examples. Also, for the record, according to Cheryl Reed, in their PR dept., “(The magazine) is not a new device for us, and actually when it was first developed, there was only one employee to have that marketing discussion: Angie Hicks, our founder. The magazine has been around since 1995 when she launched the company as a call-in center and a monthly newsletter.”
Gotta love a pioneer.
Posted on: June 7, 2012 at 10:17 am By Todd Defren