3 Brand Stories with an Unexpected Twist

Storytelling is, of course, on the minds and lips of every marketer already (even if said marketers are two industry-leading engineers who are clearly changing the content game). It gets some pros starry-eyed and others really quite sore, but one thing is undeniable: a fresh approach evolves brands from being publishers to being collaborators, creating narratives that engage audiences, evolve their experience and include them in the process. Here are three brands who took the challenge and gave story creation a new spin.

  1. Honey Maid Graham Crackers: Earlier this year, Honeymaid launched #thisiswholesome, a campaign that tackled the lack of diversity in advertising by showing a range of families that include a gay couple, a tattooed rock and roller and a single dad. Of course, the focus on dads is the first head-turner in a sea of mommy messaging, but upon closer inspection, the real sweetness (pun intended) of this campaign comes to light. Fact is, a large portion of American families aren’t traditionally structured any more. By telling real stories of those who are divorced, gay, mixed race (and more), Honey Maid is taking a decidedly inclusive approach to the modern family portrait. Of course, the campaign was met with negativity by some, but the Modelēz-owned brand was able to turn even criticism into something positive, hiring two artists to turn angry responses on Twitter into a piece of art.
  2. Duracell: Canada suffered a winter of brutal snowstorms and low temperatures earlier this year (thank you, polar vortex). As an answer to the plight of commuters on public transportation, Duracell created a bus shelter that activated heaters if travelers removed their gloves and held hands. They created moments of warmth between people that required actual physical connection, an idea blissfully simple yet effective, but completely surprising. By physically and emotionally engaging actual participants, the brand was able to create content that could do the same for viewers. The result? Almost 1.4 million views, a ton of media coverage and a handful of consumers who will undoubtedly reach for Duracell the next time their remotes need AAs.
  3. Starbucks: The coffee powerhouse has blazed trails in the world of content marketing, but is now about to take their app experience one step further by offering select markets coffee delivery in late 2015. What’s more, they will be rewarding a single user a “lifetime” (or, in actuality, 30 years) of free coffee. Such bold moves have impacted their already robust brand story online by increasing Google results to more than 12 million hits in under a week, blowing up social media and delighting caffeine junkies across the country. By taking the customer experience out of brick and mortar stores, Starbucks is putting customers first, which will help foster deeper brand love and easily translate to user generated content that expresses their loyalty.

As brands continue to redefine storytelling, a transmedia approach that leaps off the screen and into users’ lives will become as commonplace as the videos, articles, e-books and photo diaries we now consume seamlessly.

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