The Super Bowl Ghost Town

In the news

Well, ONE of us is going to have to change…

This is the marketing equivalent of two people wearing the same outfit at a wedding. Both Indeed and Guaranteed Rate’s Super Bowl spots use the same stock footage. And before I get emails – yes, I know that most ads use stock footage. But this is one of those “what are the chances?!” moments that brands in the vicinity of Ammo Somal often dread. Even with Popeye’s roasting (frying?) them on Twitter, I have to admit that this isn’t exactly anyone’s fault. It does highlight the need for exclusivity in the stock footage market though, according to Adweek.

The big game is still happening, right?

Last week, I took aim at big brands like Budweiser pulling out of this year’s Super Bowl battle for ad supremacy. Well, Advertising Insider’s Super Bowl report is here to tell you all that I’m an idiot and that pulling the ads might be a good idea. Given the fact that it’s not your typical year and the fact that the ad spots didn’t sell out until January (the spots are usually sold out by November) it seems like there’s a lot of hesitancy to spend. Thing is, most of us will be at home and available for the game. Especially since “we’re all in this together.”

Brands turn to ‘ol reliable: nostalgia marketing  

“But where is all that pulled ad money going?” I hear you ask. It’s being sent back in time, apparently. I’m sure that there’s an inflation joke to be made somewhere here. Budweiser joins brands like Tide and Cheetos in bringing back some nostalgic favorites in their product lines. This is seen as the safest bet in a tumultuous time for retailers. Sounds fair to me. I just hope that certain brands won’t be bringing back “nostalgic” mascots for old time’s sake.

🤔 Thought of the week

9 Brands Who Go Beyond Content Marketing and Do Amazing Brand Publishing

Brand publishing is so much more than your run-of-the-mill content marketing or corporate blog.

We’ve shown you why it’s a great idea. We’ve even laid down some blueprints. Now we’ve got the examples to prove it! What happens when you shift from brand-centric marketing strategy towards a content-driven marketing one?

Brands hire entire editorial teams dedicated to creating a steady stream of high-quality, relevant, and thought-provoking content, usually presented as a digital publication, website, video series, or podcast. While brand publishing may take on many forms, the goal is the same —  to build long-term relationships with a highly targeted audience.

These brands strategically weave themselves into the daily fabric of their audience’s lives. Your content becomes an independent resource, educating and inspiring your audience while positioning your brand as a thought-leader in the industry. 

Thought leadership breeds brand advocacy, which is one of the most powerful cornerstones in inbound marketing. To help your brand become a go-to source in your industry, we’ve compiled some of the best examples of brand publishing. Aren’t you lucky?

Brand Publishing Examples: Best in Content Marketing

While you may not have been familiar with the term, we bet you’ve stumbled upon at least one of these brands who have been absolutely crushing it at the publishing game. 

1. CMO, Adobe


CMO.com is one of the most successful branded content titles on the web. Since its launch in 2010, CMO.com has worked tirelessly to pose itself as the authority on all things digital — from AI, Commerce, Information Technology, to B2B, and much more. With the tagline, “Digital marketing insights, expertise, and inspiration for and by marketing leaders. Brought to you by Adobe,” their mandate is simple — all content must be relevant to marketing leaders globally; the content must be devoid of any product or company promotion, and it must be original and exclusive to CMO.com.

It’s easy to see why we often refer to CMO.com as a fantastic example of laser-focused, effective, content marketing.

2. Living Room Blog, REALTOR.ca 

REALTOR.ca is Canada’s number one real estate platform. The website boasts an average of 50 million unique visitors per year, and 291 million total visits — 13.5% of those visits come from social media with many thanks to its popular Living Room Blog. What makes the blog so unique is its ability to relate to Canadians at any stage of their real estate journey. Planning for a future purchase? Check out Real Estate 101, Market Trends, and Neighborhood Guides. Just purchased a home? Pop into Home Improvement or DIY Projects to add your own personal touches to your new place. Just browsing? Unique Homes and Design Files is filled with fun, light, and shareable content.

The Living Room blog is a perfect showcase of how to break down a broad industry and market to distinct funnels within it.

3. Futurithmic, Nokia

Futurithmic by Nokia is an editorially independent online publication and video series that explores the implications of emerging technologies. Without reading the subhead, you’d be hard-pressed to find a stitch of marketing throughout. The editorial team does a phenomenal job of separating church and state to not make the reader feel like they’re reading a sales pitch – because they’re not. They’re reading the go-to source for tomorrow’s tech. The content is trending, informative, and digestible, catering to digital aficionados and enthusiasts alike.

If anybody in your organization says that subtle content marketing doesn’t work, just show them Futurithmic.

4. 360, Steelcase

Through 360, Steelcase establishes itself as an industry leader in architecture, furniture, and services designed to help organizations and their people maximize potential. The brand has a strong global presence and keeps a pulse on emerging design and sustainability trends. Through the brand’s in-house editorial team, Steelcase shares valuable R&D insights via its quarterly publication (digital and print). While their products and offerings may seamlessly align to the industry trends, the content is never sales-focused and always educational first and foremost.

Taking an almost scientific approach to the fields of open-office design further establishes Steelcase as an authority in the commercial architecture and design space. A smart approach!

5. Tablespoon, General Mills

Tablespoon by General Mills is a hearty mix of easy-to-follow mealtime favorites, how-tos, and recipe contributions from users around the world. It’s the ever-evolving millennial cookbook. General Mills branding is infused where it’s relevant, but the primary focus is to bring in consumers through valuable content based on popular food trends. Since its inception nearly a decade ago, Tablespoon has seen exponential growth in both reach and engagement across its social platforms. They then use these metrics to inform their continuing content strategy, telling Forbes: “We use engagement numbers to gauge the popularity of our content with the understanding that superior content may indirectly link to sales.”

Leveraging quick, easy, and casual content is working wonders for General Mills, will it do the same for you?

6. Furthermore, Equinox 

In 2016, Equinox made the shift from Q blog, housed within Equinox.com, to Furthermore magazine. The growth was prompted by the readers’ desire for more a focused lifestyle publication. The self-sustaining editorial unites Equinox’s industry-leading fitness/wellness experts with worldwide tastemakers. Furthermore takes a very holistic approach to lifestyle content, featuring healthy recipes, exercises, and sportswear. “Wellness is now at the center of the cultural conversation,” said editor-in-chief Liz Miersch. “Our online magazine, Furthermore, marks our commitment to offering the best combination of science-driven fitness content and lifestyle inspiration—from in-depth feature articles to elevated fitness videos to shoppable fashion stories.”

In an era where marketing teams are moving in-house and publications are being brought more “inline company branding,” Furthermore is a publication that’s as bold to read as it is to read about.

7. The 360 Blog, Salesforce

Why does a massive brand like Salesforce need a brand publication like the 360 blog, you ask? For organizations of this size, the sheer amount of resources available make for some incredibly detailed content and research. While other, scrappier brands will be looking to establish themselves as leaders in the industry, Salesforce firmly intends to stay on top with the 360 blog. Sure, it seems like it folding the trend of folding into the parent brand, and isn’t as covert as other brand published platforms, but Salesforce’s content is at the cutting edge of industry trends and consumer behavior. 360 keeps a pulse on everything from trending metrics, marketing strategy, insight for business leaders, and much more.

Oh, and maybe stay away from naming your publication 360. It seems like a popular name and we don’t want you getting lost in the noise. 😉

8. The Recreationalist, Outdoor Voices

In 2019, the popular athleisure brand Outdoor Voices launched The Recreationalist, which includes a blog and a zine. The publication looks to guide, inspire, and motivate its audience to get movin’. Chris Ralston, Director of Digital Brand Experience at Outdoor Voices, says that the content marketing platform is intended to position Outdoor Voices as “a resource” for its customers. Everything from the Tumblr blog-like design, easily digestible content, to the outdoorsy, inspirational images all serves to create a unique, cohesive user experience.

It’s easy to see how The Recreationalist has grown from its small team of five to accommodate its continuing success. 

9. Red Bull Media House, Red Bull

If we forgot to mention that these were in no particular order, you’ve certainly realized it by now. Maybe it’s a bit overdramatic, but we’d like to knight Red Bull Media as the royalty of brand publishing. These guys are the kings and queens of original, exhilarating branded content. From extreme sports, outdoor adventures, and some, erm… more creative endeavors, they celebrate the essence of their product so well. And there’s just so much adrenaline-inducing content. The audience is so captivated by the ride they’re being taken on, that the branding almost seems subliminal.

We knight thee, Red Bull, as content King/Queen. It just goes to show that, where there’s a will an audience, there’s a way.

As you can see, there’s massive value in producing sharable, stand-alone websites, podcasts, web series, or even print magazines that help secure a direct line to your demographic. Gear up, because content-based marketing and indeed, brand publishing is where it’s at.

📉 I BET you didn’t see this roundup coming!

📰 In the news

The Wolf of GameStop

Awww. Did somebody mwanipuwate the stock mwawket fow decades and not wike it when they get a taste of theiw own mwedicine? 🥺👉👈

The underdogs of Reddit have been buying stocks in sinking, nostalgia-themed entities like GameStop. This raises the price, kicking hedge funds that bet on them going under. Love it. I’m all for sticking it to the big man, but I also question Reddit’s commitment. If r/wallstreetbets doesn’t keep up this momentum through whatever means, the fat cats will just win big on the rebound.

Is 2021 your year?

Looking to get your brand out there in 2021? Luckily for you, I’ve discovered Adweek’s 2021 marketing forecast. And by discovered, I mean that I simply clicked on to their website and threw it in here, just like I do with everything else. So, take a look at what challenges and opportunities affect how you present yourself over the next twelve months!

Not-so Super Bowl

Some big brands won’t be competing in the Super Bowl ads-travaganza this year. The big brands that made hollow “we’re all in this together” statements last year all seem to be tightening their belts for this one. This does give first-time Super Bowl advertisers like DoorDash a shot at livening up the scene, though. Also… obligatory SuperbOwl. 🏈 🦉

🤔 Thought of the week