While LEGO is a great example of how brands are competing with more traditional media companies, some brands are attempting to become media companies in their own right. Not unlike ESPN or other cable channels, these brands are essentially creating their own channels of content, actually showcasing the unique benefits of their brands rather than merely talking about them.
From big budget events like jumping from the stratosphere to strapping a GoPro to a teenage kid doing parkour, Red Bull sees itself as fueling what author Chris Anderson refers to as the “long tail” of extreme sports. The beverage company packages extreme sports and stunts into adrenaline-fueled videos, distributing them across the web in place of advertisements. The brand’s message, “Red Bull Gives You Wings,” is delivered in these high-octane films far better than any ad could ever do. Instead of providing consumers with a metaphor of the brand promise, Red Bull actively demonstrates it with great content.
More than eight million people around the world tuned into YouTube to watch Felix Baumgartner jump live from space in Red Bull “Stratos.” His jump was a perfect trifecta of results for Red Bull: Baumgartner made history as the first person to break the sound barrier, the stunt is now the most watched live stream in history, and sales in the U.S. rose seven percent in the six months following “Stratos.”
Red Bull faces strong competition from GoPro: although many Red Bull powered stunts rely on the wearable camera, GoPro is building a media empire of its own. Unlike Red Bull, GoPro is in a unique position because the brand’s product offering is also the strongest advertisement of its capabilities. When average consumers or sponsored athletes strap on a GoPro to film their adventures, they capture an authentic experience, becoming the hero of their own story. With this pure messaging of “show me” rather than “tell me,” GoPro is doing what no advertising agency could ever do: providing real first-hand perspective. Consumers who purchase a GoPro automatically become brand ambassadors when they post a video online, advertising GoPro’s ability to capture everything from a shark attack to a firefighter saving a kitten.
GoPro is the fifth biggest brand onYouTube and as only 2% of the top 5,000 YouTube channels are frombrands, this is a considerable achievement. The company’s content strategy hinges on showcasing its users’ GoPro footage, which the brand shareson its four YouTube channels and acrosssocial media. The brand’s 1,591 videosboast more than 1.78 million subscribers,and more than 416.6 million views.
Like Red Bull and GoPro, Intel is a company that sees itself as powering an entire culture, albeit one with fewer backflips. The semiconductor chip maker partnered with VICE in 2010 to increase its relevance among global youth and reinforce its role in powering creative technology with the Creators Project. The platform spotlights innovators at the intersection of art and technology through a TED-like archive of videos, and it helps demonstrate Intel’s capability to power creative initiatives.