Content In The Royal Court

Dyaln Byers of Adweek had lunch with Carl Johnson of Anomaly on the terrace of the Carlton Hotel in Cannes this week. Byers asked Johnson how he felt about the notion that “content is king.”

“I don’t agree with that,” he said. “I think it sends you down the wrong track. I’d say the emphasis is on relevance and usefulness. The danger with the content story is—the most powerful thing you could do to me as a brand if I went to [a music festival] is you could chill my beer for me. If you pursue ‘content,’ you won’t come up with that idea. And if you go the airport and get power from Nokia or Sony, that’s much more meaningful to me as a brand. I think content steers you away from that. I think content is a subset of that, if it’s relevant and useful. But the more fundamental thing is for brands to have a meaningful relationship and engagement with their audience.”

So experiential is king. Or more simply put, solving the marketing problem is king. I have no problem with that. But I will say that no one’s arguing for a content-only solution.

For example, when I was a Content Director at BFG Communications working on the Camel brand, the need for content was dictated by the brand’s multi-million dollar event series. Content from past events helped promote upcoming events and also helped people relive the events they already attended. In this example content and events worked hand-in-hand. Most successful content strategies follow this multidimensional model.

Today, we talk a lot about how all companies are media companies, and that’s the reality if the company operates online to any degree. Brand sites need content and brand’s social arms need content, every day. So, content may not be King, but it’s certainly become a member of the royal court.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Whateva says:

    I sometimes feel like digital people ­—­ as well as traditional advertising people ­— get caught up in semantics while seeking to jockey for the lead in a race that they’ve created in their own delusional and arrogant minds. “Content is king” has always been rooted in relevance and usefulness, whether the phrase is being spouted by digital or traditional advertising people. I wish they would stop interviewing people during Cannes. These
    assholes are clearly drunk on expensive booze guzzled at endless parties, compounded by egos that have been overinflated by shiny trophies regularly awarded to fake ads.