Content marketing is one of the dominant themes in advertising. And it makes sense. The way we consume media has changed dramatically in the past decade and consumers are savvier than ever to traditional marketing efforts. The creation of content that people genuinely want to engage with and share is a very alluring prospect to marketers in the age of YouTube and DVR.
Everyone wants to be the content, not the annoying message that interrupts or distracts from it.
The problem is most marketers and brands aren’t willing to spend the money it takes to make that content. No one is willing to allocate the resources necessary to create the content they so badly want. And even when they do have the dough, the want to roll in key messaging or offers that distract from the initial goal. The goal cannot be to sell something; the goal has to be to create something that is wondrous, special, and creative – something that just happens to be sponsored by your brand. Why create content if it won’t elicit an emotion or make the viewer laugh, or cry, or scream?
I recently watched the documentary “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s” about the influence of the landmark department store in New York City. The documentary itself was a fantastic example of content marketing, but it was the holiday window displays that really showcased how most marketers miss the mark when it comes to creating content.
You see, at Bergdorf Goodman the window displays aren’t just window displays, they're stories. They dedicate a massive amount of resources to tell those stories including a team of full-time, year-round employees. Imagine if every brand dedicated that many man hours to content marketing annually? A department store does it…for their window displays.
It doesn’t end at manpower. Bergdorf’s team has warehouses, yes warehouses plural, to store all of props and design elements they use throughout the year. It takes artists from all over the tri-state area months to create the works that fill each window, while the design team can spend years procuring specific works from artisans past and present all over the world. The window displays have become so iconic that designers will create one-of-a-kind, not for sale pieces simply to be a part of the magic.
All the time and effort pays off. The windows speak to a multi-faceted audience. They play to the fantasies and dreams of children, feed the desires of a wealthy clientele, and create an aspirational culture for thousands of passerby everyday. It’s estimated that millions of people make the trip to 5th avenue to see the Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows. They come as tourists or locals, alone or with friends and family, and many make an annual pilgrimage. That’s what makes the Bergdorf Goodman windows the epitome of content marketing. They aren’t simply content, they’ve become a part of people’s traditions. What more can a brand ask for?