Not every piece of content marketing that I'm going to bring to you is going to be a mega-popular viral sensation. Some are going to be the experimental ads that are pushing the limits of content marketing.
The Land Rover and William Boyd partnership is just one such example. The iconic SUV and off-road manufacturer paired up with the famed novelist of post-Ian Fleming James Bond fame to bring you some branded content. Great storytelling is how this content succeeds, read on for a story!
What is the Land Rover and William Boyd content marketing campaign?
When you think "Land Rover" you probably think one of two things:
Rugged, unstoppable, independence creating off-road vehicles from jolly old England
Rugged, unstoppable, grocery getters for rich moms and footballers from jolly old England
With this content marketing campaign, Land Rover are trying to get you to think more about the former, and less about the latter. Enter William Boyd, with a 17,000 word short story that features an opportunity to drive about in a rugged vehicle...that just happens to be a Land Rover.
The trailer for the campaign sets the story up beautifully:
You don't get dialogue like that in a McDonald's ad!
If you're looking at this and seeing that there are only 60,000-ish views and being underwhelmed, you should be. There was so much potential to take people on a trip through video here, but it was never meant to be a YouTube hit. There was another goal in mind.
Below the video you'll spot a link to https://thevanishinggame.com/. Head over there yourself and the story will unfold as text scrolling up the screen while the narrator from the YouTube video tells you his story.
It also features a changing background with images of the area in England where the story is set. (For some reason my screenshots would not pick this up.)
What I liked about the Land Rover and William Boyd campaign
The is, perhaps, the strongest example of branded storytelling that I have come across. This isn't a 2 minute video that you watch and walk away from. This is involved. It's not viral, it's personal. It's a journey you take...with Land Rover. Their logo is always up in the corner, after all.
As a bit of a writer myself, I see this as an excellent opportunity for writers to get paid, people to get stories for free, and ads to be made. In short, if you're interested in doing an ad like this, my contact information is at the bottom. To get serious, the story told is absolutely engaging. Those in the ad world talk about brand storytelling all the time. It's a concept that involves everything from your logo to your packaging. This, however, is storytelling with a brand.
Did you look closely at the video? It was released 2 months ago. Is this your first time hearing about this? I'd wager that it is. I feel that this ad has staying power and will continue to be a story that is told for a longer lifespan than the most viral of videos. It didn't hit the Internet hard and set it on fire. It's a slow burn.
To demonstrate this, you can still go on Twitter and see people talking about it.
Can you say that about the big viral hit of November 2014 beyond analysts offering up their opinions? I really doubt that. This may be a content marketing campaign that has serious legs.
What I didn't like about the Land Rover and William Boyd Campaign
The entire campaign was dead in the water when it comes to social buzz. They didn't do much to push a hashtag to use. There's nothing on the website about sharing. Overall, it felt too much like a book that was put online.
It could have felt like an interactive, cross-platform, experience that you shared and enjoyed with friends right from the moment you hit the first page of The Vanishing Game. There just wasn't a big enough push, or any direction given, to get that to happen. Here's the last time Land Rover shared it online:
Thirteen retweets...thirteen! They seriously need to up their social game if they want to create and effectively use content marketing in this way.
The Vanishing Game succeeded at its title - it vanished, and nowhere near enough people saw this excellent example of content marketing. With a harder social push, a greater YouTube presence, and some more hype, this could have been a really special moment in content marketing. As it stands, it was a very interesting experiment that I hope more brands try out (preferably with me!).