Southerly put on its intrepid creative content agency hat last week and headed out to an event to discuss all things content marketing with big brands that were interested in its potential. It was a great chance to find out the new digital needs of established, household names and industries, and how creative content can address those needs.
One need that was glaringly apparent from our research was how a brand can use creative content to generate interest and buzz around an unpopular or seemingly ‘bland’ industry.
One answer can be found by looking at a recent content marketing case study by Scottish Widows.
The Edinburgh-based life insurance, investments and pensions brand has done a brilliant job of circumventing the elephant the room – that life insurance is unfortunately about preparing for the inevitable – by sidelining life insurance, and associated thoughts of death, completely.
The campaign is titled “Life feels better when you have a plan” and puts life first. The insurance part of it, basically, is incidental.
The clever example of creative thinking is designed around a number of short stories, presented in quick, well-executed videos, about people who have done as the title suggests and made a plan. The campaign title alludes to a play on the word ‘plan’ – Scottish Widows of course wants to market financial plans, but the protagonists of this series of stories are all about their plans for life. Planning for the future doesn’t really factor into their stories; it’s about life in the here and now. It’s a crucial bit of contrast that powers the campaign.
What is equally crucial to the campaign’s comprehensive design is that it speaks to a set of clearly defined personas. Scottish Widows has quite rightly recognised that its potential new customers come from all walks of life, and their plans can range from organising a meeting next week to how their lives, loves or business might look in five years’ time.
As such, the video content needs to speak to multiple generations in multiple capacities. We hear the stories of Medhi, a mid-30s pastry chef; Vincent, a lumberjack and mechanics enthusiast in his 40s; and Colin and Janet, an older couple who have achieved a life of complete bliss by pursuing different interests – she likes shopping and he likes bodybuilding. The heartwarming, interesting stories paint a colourful picture of ordinary and relatable lives. A carefree undertone tells you that once you have a plan in place, you can get on with the living.
Employing a technique of pulling in the audience instead of pushing out a sales message, these non-intrusive, harmonious stories reflect everything we don’t want to talk about – that niggling necessity we all secretly know we should be getting done – by literally not talking about it. They’re also only about a minute and a half long, ensuring that they are shareable. Life comes first, insurance is just there for the ride.
Creative content can be used to build a picture around an unpopular subject that people can warm to. The mind’s eye fills in the gaps.
And with content marketing now top of mind among an increasing number of brands, not least the ones Southerly met last week, there’s no longer any hiding place for elephants in the room, not even baby ones.