The Power of Content


It is fair to say, both anecdotally and empirically, that 'content', content marketing, call it what you will, is now firmly on the agenda of any self respecting modern marketer; whether their ambition is to do some, do more, do it better or do epic. That said, it seems it is only recently, as the medium is maturing, that we are beginning to see its potentially awesome (and I use that word advisedly) power.

I have been thinking about this for some time, but it was just last week that an article about Lego closed the loop for me.

The story begins with Lego too, as this is when I woke up to the power of content to create proper, real world change. In this instance Lego was on the receiving end of some powerful content fromGreenpeace that cleverly parodied the signature song from Lego's awesome movie to tell its own story. The portentous film plays out the tragic consequences of oil pollution on the Arctic and effectively points the finger of blame at Shell, with whom Lego had had a partnership for 50 odd years. The content was powerful enough to challenge long held brand perceptions, threaten brand love, create action, inciting people to sign Greenpeace's online petition to end the partnership, and ultimately put another brick in their wall to block climate change. Not bad for a little two minute film.

This reminded me of the first time brands started to get a bit twitchy about 'empowered consumers'. It seems crazy now to think that not so long ago this was a new phenomenon, enabled by the internet and amplified when people started talking and listening to each other online more than brands' own carefully constructed propaganda. I remember the poster child of this new era was the Kryptonite bike lock 'scandal’ (OK, within the non life threatening domain of brands and marketing). A member of the previously powerless species called 'consumers' had noticed that his top-of-the-range lock could very quickly and simply be decommissioned using a Bic biro. He shared his trick on an online forum and it went viral (you were allowed to say that in the early noughties) - mortally wounding Kryptonite.

We're all quite blasé about consumer power today and big brands have been built off this very thing. But what are the limits of this power? I was thumbing, OK scrolling, through Debrett’s '500 Influencers 2015’ the other day, which sets out to list ‘people of influence and achievement in British society’ and includes the likes of the Prime Minister David Cameron, Dame Hilary Mantel, Sir Richard Branson, oh and Zoe Sugg and Alfie Deyes. Who the, what the!? Yes. And they'll be queuing up for their CBEs before the next decade is out mark my words!

Vloggers have their own personal (and lucrative) agenda, and all power to them, but others are using the power of content for an altogether greater good. Not just generally saving the planet as Greenpeace intends to, but saving actual lives, of people you may know or even your own. Two recent online films for Meningitis Now and Cancer Research UK call you to take control of your own health by simply checking your breasts or being aware of the signs of Meningitis. #FastestHour uses a pretty harrowing true story to educate people of the signs and symptoms of Meningitis, the knowledge of which could save your life. It is a simple but hugely powerful piece and I challenge you to watch it and not immediately go to their website and feverishly take in all the information available to you.

But it was the news last week that Lego has become the world’s most powerful brand, according the annual Brand Finance rankings, that really completed the story for me. “A lot of that [Lego’s rise to being most powerful brand] has been down to the success of The Lego Movie” according to the Brand Finance experts. Here was a brand that not long ago had been under siege thanks to clever use of content by Greenpeace and was now top of the world thanks to a piece of their very own, albeit rather epic, content.

So if content can save lives, save the planet and put a girl from a bedroom in Brighton on a list next to the Prime Minister, imagine what it could do for you.

Kath Hipwell, Head of Content Strategy.

Photo Credit: Greenpeace