Considering Content

Faris Yakob is thinking deep thoughts about content’s place in our industry.

Content and media are weird words. They are the antonymic binary stars that all our industries circle around, feeding of the energy they pump out into culture.
They don’t really exist without each other. Even in the very specific sense in which we use the words, they are both defined by what they are not.
A medium is a vector for content.
Content is that which is mediated.
Without a medium, there is no content.
Without content, you have no media.

The Kaiser is also interested in the topic. He says content will kill one’s agency, unless one’s agency begins to create it.

Commenting on this notion, Gavin Heaton says:

We have all become too focused on delivering to briefs at the expense of true innovation. The art of advertising is dying in our hands, and along with it, the business models around which agencies have flourished. We have become jingoists rather than storytellers and the hollowness of our brand rhetoric is about to be exposed by the technological revolution that has transformed other industries well before our own.
Content creation is the last bastion of creative resilience that is left to us. Everything else we have conceded to the accountants, consultants and digital folks hungry for growth and glamour. Now give me a drink, I am toasting the rising sea.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a content director working on the Camel brand at BFG Communications. I haven’t made an ad in nearly two years; yet I’m still employed by an agency, albeit one that never identified itself as an “advertising” agency.
It’s been an interesting ride thus far. I often take an agressively anti-advertising stance inside the agency, mostly as a means of helping to clarify what content is. I’ve found the easiest way to describe it, is to say what it isn’t. That is, it isn’t advertising. It isn’t something to avoid, rather it’s something to seek out and spend quality time with. And it’s all brought to you by the brand.
In Camel’s case, the brand is selling not just a product, but a lifestyle. Thus, it’s imperative that the brand identity be closely tied to nightlife, live music, outsider art and the indie spirits who circulate in and create these worlds.
The same can be said for any lifestyle brand. Nike is a lifestyle brand. Harley-Davidson is a lifestyle brand. Sam Adams is a lifestyle brand. And so on. As such, these brands can gain much by producing not just ads, but programming—TV shows, serial webisodes, coffee table books, CDs, internet radio stations, etc. There’s also a major opportunity to infuse the brand’s advertising with content, especially advertising on the web and direct mail.
People love to speculate about the changes underway in our industry and what it all means. It means there’s a boatload of opportunity to recreate ourselves and profit from this ongoing realignment.
[UPDATE] Scamp offers up an intriguing new content sample from Freixenet wine.



About David Burn

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. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.