The image at the top of this post is a sample from one of the best advertising campaigns I’ve seen in recent memory.

It’s from Stabilo, a company who makes highlighters (pen junkies like me are already really familiar) and produced by DDB out of Germany. There’s a whole slate of them, and they’re brilliant (you can see more of them HERE).

From the team:

Everyone knows the phrase “Behind every great man is a great woman.” But what does it mean? That the man is always the hero and the woman his sidekick? The truth is, all too often women were upstaged, and their actions and successes not mentioned. 2018 is the year to rewrite history by highlighting remarkable women and their stories: with Stabilo Boss.

Most of the time in marketing, we keep advertising and content in separate buckets, though that’s changing slowly. But this campaign sparked all kinds of ideas from me about how you could translate this into a supporting content marketing plan that captures this perspective for the long term. And don’t worry that this is a B2C company; it’s translatable entirely. Here’s what I mean.

Storytelling

Great content often lives at the intersection of what your audience needs, what you’re good at and can speak to, and topics that just aren’t talked about enough in your industry (or even the world).

The idea of “highlighting” unsung heroes – in this case women, but there are LOTS of unsung populations – is a brilliant bedrock for literally years and years of content.

Can you imagine the power of Stabilo using their marketing channels to curate and publish stories about these women from the ad campaign over the course of the next several months? They could really into it by talking about women in their own company, women in business, women in world affairs…my mind-mappy brain can keep going for ages on this.

The point is that this campaign nails what so many others lack: they’re telling a profound story with the images, and the ambient way that highlighting unsung heroes ties into their product is lovely and subtle. You don’t need to hit people over the head with your stuff all the time.

Multimedia

The marketer in me can’t help thinking about how you extend this across marketing channels to create inspiring content:

Blogs: This is a no-brainer, but posts on the blog to expand on these stories and invite readers to submit and share their own would be awesome. Currently the blog is focused on a lot of art-related stuff, but this would be a lovely way to capture the hearts and minds of non-artist types and still showcase some beautiful and poignant storytelling that can offer a new perspective on this brand.

Social Channels: Rather than just using the social channels as an amplifier for more static content elsewhere, how about an IGTV series interviewing women in Stabilo’s company about the unsung hero women in their own lives? Or short ‘mini story’ Twitter threads with photos? There’s one mention of their ad campaign on Twitter, and only that it was rewarded at Cannes Lions. So much more possible here!

Video: Another no brainer, but aside from just documentary capture of the stories featured in the ads or other “spotlight” content, what about “man on the street” interviews asking people to highlight their unsung heroes, or inviting customers to submit their own videos about the unsung heroes in their lives? Again, all their current videos are focused on art and creativity – which is awesome – but if you want to blend the two, how about showcasing the work of unknown artists?

Audio: This is a podcast concept if I’ve ever seen one.

The Takeaways

There’s a couple of things I’ve taken from this one that I want you to remember.

Find a storyline for your content. In my work at LinkedIn as a content marketing evangelist, we call this “whitespace”, or stories and topics that other people aren’t talking about so you can stay on that platform for a while. Most often, the right kind of storyline is not something that’s directly related to your brand, and the association sort of…happens, rather than being a forced thing.

Not everything is about conversion. When it comes to content, far too many of us marketers are focusing on the content that converts to a lead versus something that’s more top of funnel, brand-and-reputation based content. In this case, Stabilo may sell some highlighters thanks to this, but I also have a different impression of them as a company because they partnered to create this campaign. That counts for something.

Integrate your marketing investments. This campaign is so beautiful…but it feels a lot like a means to an end. I don’t find it prominent on their site, on their digital channels, and I want to. I’m craving the continuity of this concept throughout all of the brand’s stuff, and I want to see them double down on this as a value they hold, not just an award-winning ad. And while you don’t have to upend your entire marketing strategy because you landed on a good campaign, it’s worth asking the question about how you can use the storyline to inform your marketing for the long haul.

There’s probably more, but I’m unreasonably devoted to elevating the quality of B2B content marketing, and this to me was an inspirational example for a great starting point in a different sector that can inspire some really fabulous content. You’ve likely got an example – or a glimmer of one – for your own company.

You don’t have to have a Cannes Lions-winning ad campaign to do it, either. But you have stories to tell, you have big ideas you can illustrate as part of your brand, and I hope today you’ll head back to your desk and think about what unsung things you can highlight tomorrow.

 

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