In reading my daily dose of Ad Week last Friday, I had a chance to watch the incredible video for North Face highlighting Alex Honnald’s free-solo climb of El Sendero Luminoso.
While I myself have never climbed, nor will likely ever climb – I was mesmerized enough to watch the entire 6-minute video. When it finished, with the subtle placement of the North Face logo I found myself drawn to North Face. They told a great story.
The idea of doing subtle (and not-so-subtle) product placement isn’t new:
However, I would say that some brands are getting much better at using storytelling as a way to reach their audiences. In my opinion, if you want to quickly find the brands that are doing it best, look to those with a tie to extreme sports.
Red Bull, GoPro, and the example from North Face that inspired this article – are all following a pretty simple formula:
- Know what you stand for.
- Know who associates with you.
- Produce content that aligns with both of the above.
Spend a few minutes on Red Bull’s website, and you’ll find a plethora of stunts, athletes, and events that have ZERO to do with an energy drink. GoPro is doing the same thing. In fact, the two brands collaborated on Felix Baumgartner’s historic jump from space.
The true test of any marketing is whether or not it helps sell products. In 2012, 5.2 Billion cans of Red Bull were sold in the world. For GoPro, they sold 2.3 Million cameras that same year. It seems like it’s working.
And, while I’m not sure I’m encouraged to free climb a mountain or jump from space – it wouldn’t be surprising if you saw me skiing in a North Face jacket, with a GoPro strapped to my helmet, and a RedBull in my pocket.
The moral of all this? Tell a great story and your content will ALWAYS be compelling. So, if you’re ever struggling with how to promote your product, think about how you’d tell your story – it’s a pretty safe bet.