Brands as Content Engines
Brands as content engines

Fast Company’s Innovation Uncensored event in New York City earlier this year, rounded up some of the globe’s leading experts on branding for a thought-provoking discussion of the present–and the future–of content marketing. Fast Company’s Co.Create Editor, Teressa Iezzi, tapped marketing chiefs from NASCAR, Intel, Unilever and Mondelez for their insights on how brands can successfully leverage content and storytelling going forward.

Whether it’s fast cars, computers, or beauty products, content marketing has exploded over the last few years. It’s a growing trend that can’t be ignored—indeed, it was a hot conversation topic throughout all of Innovation Uncensored—and a consistent theme that’s emerged is the need to leverage new distribution channels that can sustain an ongoing dialogue with consumers.

Brands used to “tell,” but now they must “ask”. To truly engage with consumers today, a brand needs more than word-of-mouth. It needs tweets, texts, and pins. And while an enormous challenge, this also represents the greatest potential ever to meaningfully connect with a target.

This means that brands need team members and communication structures that allow them to react to events in real time (remember that Super bowl tweet from Oreo?). Speed is the new name of the game–whether you’re NASCAR or not.

We learned a lot from our panel, but the three points we can’t forget are these:

Distribute in the right way

“At NASCAR, we already have a huge amount of live sports content. For us, it’s about distributing that content in the right way in hopes to attract a younger audience.”

–Steve Phelps, Senior VP/Chief Marketing Officer, NASCAR

Dialogue trumps assets

“Our content has evolved. Now, advertising is content and distribution. It’s no longer about creating an ad and hoping it goes viral. We create content for the intention that goes viral. This is a big change over the past few years.”

– Deborah Conrad, Corporate VP/Chief Marketing Officer, Intel

Market in the moment

“A lot of people look at Oreo as a breakout case. For us, it’s ‘how do you market in the moment? How do you become the zeitgeist?’ Oreo is a great example of a real-time piece of content: surrounding a cultural event, doing the Oreo Twist. Where is the moment the consumer is at right now? How do we bring that into our marketing?”

– Bonan Bough, VP of Global Media and Consumer Engagement, Mondelez International

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