Though the time has come to say goodbye to 2012, in the New Year we will find ourselves saying hello to a new era of advertising. 2012 will be remembered as the year that content became king. 2013 will be the year that marketers begin to perfect their branded content. Because learning from the past is always the best way to move forward in the future, let's take a moment to remember a few of the best branded content campaigns of the past year.
Red Bull - Stratos Project
It is nearly impossible to discuss branded content without bringing up Red Bull. This company truly has done incredible things to bring awareness to the brand and to show the world that Red Bull is so much more than an energy drink; it's a lifestyle. The incredible amount of publicity received by Felix Baumgartner's historic free fall to earth will be difficult to beat. Over 8 Million people watched live as the stunt unfolded and countless others have watched it since. Because of the overwhelming popularity, and the outstanding audience engagement, this is certainly one of the most significant advertising efforts of the year.
Oreo - Daily Twist
Oreo had a big year in 2012. The brand celebrated 100 years of being America's favorite cookie. To commemorate the event, Oreo unveiled the "Daily Twist" a series of 100 pictures each featuring the cookie. The daily pictured honored a great deal of things including holidays, celebrations, trending events and major news stories. Personally, I made a note to visit the site each day just to see what clever situations that cookie would find itself in next. Oreo truly did an excellent job of putting their product right in the midst of a branded content campaign.
Coca Cola - Vending Machines & More
The Coca Cola 007 challenge is still one of my favorite things to watch on YouTube. As a company, Coca-Cola did a great job this year of creating interesting and unique content based on their vending machines. However, they didn't stop at viral video. Anyone who has followed the brand this year will have noticed that the coca-colacompany.com homepage has shifted from merely providing company and investor information, to being a hub of entertaining and informative content. Clearly, the company has enlisted the help of a few brand journalists to produce high quality and engaging content for their audience. Because of this dedication to the art of branded content, Coca Cola gets a spot on this list of top content producers.
Sharpie - Instagram
Brands have been trying to figure out the best way to use Instagram since it skyrocketed in popularity this year. Sharpie, seems to have gotten it right. Every day, sometimes multiple times a day, Sharpie shares a clever picture on their instagram account drawn entirely from Sharpie pens. The drawings are relevant, fun, and extremely creative. The brand has truly found a unique way to engage with their audience. I know I look forward to seeing what they will come up with next!
Melbourn Metro - Dumb Ways to Die
This cute little video gained 14 million views in just a week and is now being called one of the best advertising campaigns of the year by bloggers across the web. The catchy tune will get stuck in your head as you watch these adorable little characters show you all the silly ways a person could die. The extremely viral nature of the video makes it branded content, because it lives on it's own (in the video and for purchase on iTunes) and within the scope of the ad campaign. This is one example of just how close advertising and branded content can be.
Target -Falling for You
Target's 12-minute film called Falling For You, released earlier this fall is a superb example of a seamless integrated digital marketing strategy and branded content. While watching the series of videos, viewers were given opportunity to purchase the Target merchandise worn and used by the actors. Thus, shoppable video was born. Search, social, content - they all come together in one video that is entirely made up of Target's products and dedicated to promoting the brand's message. Because it is a great example of branded content, and a front-runner in what is sure to be a trend of shoppable video, Falling for You makes this year's list.
It's not easy to narrow down a year of branded content, but I feel that these are truly some of the most innovative campaigns 2012 had to offer. I can't wait to see what 2013 will bring. I predict that soon branded content will become more personalized and dynamic and eventually it will be difficult to see the differences between what is branded content, and what is not. Time will tell!