10 content gamechangers

Cast your mind back a decade ago. In politics, Obama was enjoying his first year at the White House, while Gordon Brown was gearing up for an election. Governments were still trying to work out the implications of the financial crash the year before, and at that point, no one had ever heard the word ‘Brexit.’

In the worlds of media and content, things were moving at a very rapid pace. The two big social platforms of the years before, MySpace and Bebo, were starting to struggle and new favourite Facebook was moving away from its core of students and attracting an older audience. Then there was the new kid on the block, Twitter, which limited its posts to a measly 140 characters.

Big things too were predicted for online video with the huge take up of the new smartphones from Apple, Samsung and others.

It was toward the end of the last decade too that an organisation known as the APA, would rebrand as the Content Marketing Association (CMA), and began to champion content. In the space of ten years, there have been some incredible stories, videos, and publications, many created by our members, which we have consistently praised and saluted. Here then are ten that we consider to be real game changers

BA HighLife’s Benedict Cumberbatch issue – It was in many ways just another superb issue of BA‘s HighLife magazine produced by CMA member Cedar Communications. Yet a 2014 issue caused something of media kerfuffle because the issue featured a superb photo shot with the star of the moment, Benedict Cumberbatch. It generated such demand that issues were being stolen and sold on eBay for significant sums. Could it be one of the most desirable issues of a brand magazine ever?

25 most awkward cat sleeping positions, BuzzFeed – If you could make a case for one media organisation revolutionising the way content has been created in the last ten years it would probably be BuzzFeed. The site launched by Jonah Peretti in 2006, arguably took off in 2011/12 when its content, which was collated from social media, delighted readers across the globe. It was stories like this onethat for better or worse sparked a demand for listicles which has influenced media companies and brands ever since.

Serial Podcast – Sure podcasts were a thing as far back as the mid-noughties, but our current obsession is arguably down to the Serial podcast which first debuted in 2014. The series, which chronicled the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee an 18-year-old student at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore, hooked a nation and inspired a whole generation of podcasters.

Project magazine for the iPad – Back in 2010, companies had high hopes for interactive magazines created especially for the latest Apple device, the iPad. CMA member Seven worked with Virgin to produce Project which combined the sit back, long read style of a magazine with a host of whizzy interactive features. This style of content set the template for the many iPad magazines which followed.

New York Times’ Google Glass experiment – In 2015 The New York Times did something special with its weekend magazine. Accompanying the publication were a pair of Google glasses, lo-fi versions of VR headsets, which could be used to view some fascinating virtual reality films on the media company’s website. It was the first time anyone had used VR in storytelling on such a grand scale.

Blendtec – will it blend? One of the most successful content marketing campaigns ever, which brought the words ‘viral video’ to brands. From 2007-2010 US blender company Blendtec created a series of videos in which they put items, which really ought not to be blended, into their blenders, including famously a lot of Apple products. As of March 1, 2018, the Blendtec series of videos had collected a total of 285,005,423 views.

The Samsung Oscar selfie – Ok, so can a selfie ever be considered a serious bit of content? Make your one mind up on that one. But the shot of Ellen DeGeneres, along with crashers including Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep, at the 2014 Oscars went on record as the most tweeted selfie ever (well until 2017). And in case you think it was a spur of the moment thing, it had been planned for months. So a classic example of content marketing for Samsung?


Huck/Little White Lies magazines – Just at a point in the mid-noughties when seers were predicting that print magazines were on their way out, CMA member TCO London launched a pair of innovative indie titles Huck and Little White Lies. The publications mixed the energy and scrappiness of street media and fanzines with the high production values of the style press. By 2010 their approach had begun to have a significant influence on magazine publishing and along with Delayed Gratification, The Idler and others helped to inspire a mini indie print boom.

House Of Cards Netflix – Up until 2013 Netflix was a video platform that was starting to make inroads into viewing behaviour in the US. Then it dropped the big one launching an updated version of a UK series from the 90s – House Of Cards. The company’s genius move was not only to relocate the series to the US but also to change the way people watch TV by offering all 13 episodes at the same time. Binge viewing was born.

General Electric and Facebook Live – Facebook began its live streaming service in 2015, and at first, neither brands nor media companies seemed to know quite what to do with it. The first really good example of how a brand could harness live content on the platform was produced by General Electric. The company, which has a history of creating compelling content on many platforms, used its sponsorship of the 2016 Olympics to deliver live footage shot by drones at the events. The footage was breathtaking and the interaction with the brand via the platform was huge.

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