more than just content

May 11, 2012 · 0 comments


last thursday i had the privilege of attending the Vice upfront party in new york city (thanks Mediacom). for those who don't know Vice, they are an authentic, gritty, counter-culture, cross-media publishing group with a very defined aesthetic, POV and editorial style. they are also pioneering a new age of content creation, distribution, monetization and brand integration. hard to believe they started in canada.

much of the evening was professing many of the mantras about content marketing i'm trying to bring to the forefront in my new role (ie. nothing new - just a Vice spin), but it wasn't until nearly the end that i heard something that was newly resonant. it was one of those things that you know implicitly, but haven't talked about it or even fully realized it yourself.

i can't recall the person who said it but it went like this: "we want to create culture with [brands] that means something."

i'm not going to begin to try and pin down a definition of culture or what constitutes culture. i think we'd all naturally agree that brands are part of culture and ever more so in a hyper-connected and digital world. we can also all probably agree that advertising is also part of culture. but i would posit that it was always a subset of culture though, a strain of culture perhaps. whenever it was discussed, it had the stink of advertising on it; fleetingly alive within that narrow scope of being (only a few ever transcending that - such as Apple's 1984).

what i think the gentleman was alluding to is not contributing to a genus of culture but to culture itself. to something that is elevated, powerful, legitimate, contributing to the zeitgeist. not an ad, but something tantamount to the regard of a movie, an album, a tv show, a book, an article or a piece of technology. these all hold a place in the esoteria of culture. a piece of brand content can too. that is a whole other thing to strive for.

what it prompted for me was a new perspective when entering into formulating content; to start from the viewpoint of creating culture. to have that as a guidepost in concepting and developing. to strive for something that can penetrate beyond a brand message and into the very fabric of culture. definitely to not be an ad, and to go beyond just being a similarly transient piece of content. to be a lasting, revered artifact of a brand that doesn't wain in public consciousness for some time.

branded culture > branded entertainment

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