Marketing comes out of the closet

August 28, 2014

In the restaurant industry, the space made accessible to clients has long been limited to the dining room. Impossible to get into the kitchen. Closed. Top secret. Chefs were also rarely glimpsed, making their work environment a mysterious and inaccessible space where magic happens. But in recent years, clients have become more and more curious about what’s happening back there, inspiring some restaurants to build an experience around an open kitchen. For example, La Fabrique Bistrot, in Plateau-Mont Royal, has pushed the concept by placing the open kitchen in the middle of the restaurant.

This evolution towards greater transparency has extended beyond the restaurant industry. The metaphor now applies to marketing departments, which were also long confined to the “kitchen”. Today’s most influential marketers are not afraid to open the door. Brands are becoming increasingly more open, whereas in the past, the same information was jealously guarded.

It must be admitted that the powerful surge in content strategy, which has now replaced the traditional 30-second TV spot, has had a major impact. However, to create these strategies, you need content of every kind, including data generated by market research. Some brands have understood that this data can be leveraged to create compelling content and they are making the most of it!

If your chef is just reheating frozen dishes, then it’s better that those kitchen doors stay shut. The bar is high when it comes to providing information that is both relevant and inviting. It’s a complex process that requires sharing of expertise in research (surveys, web analytics, ethnography, etc.), design, user experience and, of course, storytelling.

Let’s take Ikea’s most recent project, Life At Home. The Swedish brand legend aptly combined qualitative and quantitative data to create content that is unique and perfectly aligned with its brand image. The result: a photo essay chronicling the lifestyles of people living in eight cities around the world, produced using data generated by a survey that thousands of people completed. The quality of the data and the visual treatment enhance the content, which could have just as easily been dropped into a basic Word document. Will this research help Ikea managers make better marketing decisions? Naturally. But it’s also an excellent exercise in producing content.

This year, 2014, has seen many projects that put content at the forefront. Notable examples include Pornhub and OKCupid. These two web institutions used their blogs to prove they can build rich and accessible content based in large part on analysis and visualizing data.

If you want to see all the winners of a Cannes Lions in the Branded Content and Entertainment category this year, visit the festival website.

Image from the Ikea report Life At Home