January 7, 2016

Case study: Wes Anderson’s role in content marketing

Wes Anderson: the immeasurably quirky auteur that has created such wonderful worlds in each of his films that he has assembled a near cult following. Whatever he touches seems to have an increasingly large section of the internet erupt in cheers.

Anderson’s work is instantly recognizable by his elaborate, intricate and colourful sets to his complex characters and clever dialogue. He has a host of raving and loyal fans and his screenplays and set designs are critically acclaimed. Arguably, he has created a brand for himself through his work.

Though he is most famous for his eight films (nine including the short film version of Bottle Rocket), this is not all the director is renowned for.

Anderson has been able to take this signature style into the realm of content marketing for the likes of Prada, American Express and Hyundai, making pieces of art in their own right. However, they work as pieces of marketing because his growing fan base repeatedly consumes the content, not only because it is good content but simply because he made it.

When we boil it down, Anderson’s pull is the promise of enjoyable and intriguing content. This is the sign of a good content marketing strategy as we are always aiming to utilize exceptional content to attract and retain a brand’s target audience.

I have curated a short list of Anderson’s commercial work to unpack why exactly this style of content production works so well.

  1. Prada: Candy

Italian fashion house Prada is no stranger to original content campaigns. They have presented a string of clever short film series and commercials employing high-profile directors and actors. I recommend looking up The Postman Series and A Therapy starring Helena.

In keeping with Prada’s creative content, they contracted dream team Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola to put together a three-part series. Candy tells the story of a love-triangle between two men and the irresistible heroine Candy, named in self-aware humor after the fragrance Prada is advertising with the film.

Admittedly, this creative branded content pulls on Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola’s established followings which are ultimately part of their desirability as content producers for this campaign. However, the content is compelling enough in its own right to draw in the intended audience.

  1. Prada: Castello Cavalcanti

Prada also commissioned short film Castello Cavalcanti starring Anderson favorite Jason Schwartzman. This film had barely any brand positioning at all, only a simple branded jumpsuit. It doesn’t even represent the target audience of Prada products in a stereotypical way. It simply exists as good content to be enjoyed – and it is. With 872,504 views on YouTube, 6,869 likes and a smattering of good reviews, this piece of work puts Prada on the map as a creative leader.

This film is included in Anderson’s filmography and no doubt aims to further his own brand. The pairing with Prada ties their successes together and as Anderson’s fan base grows, this film will continue to be watched. Yet the film will always be a part of the Prada portfolio.

  1. Stella Artois

Anderson has also created more direct commercials for companies such as Stella Artois and Hyundai (https://youtu.be/Nc9-O https://youtu.be/Nc9-Ofl2I64

fl2I64). While these are more overt in their selling, it does not detract from his skill in producing marketable content. The commercial is still enjoyable to watch. Even though you know you are being sold to, you don’t mind because the set is so bright and symmetrical, the characters are interesting and the content quirky. You are in the Anderson universe and you don’t really care why.

The simple act of producing enjoyable content is what the role of the content marketer is for. When we produce content so enjoyable to the target audience that they watch it willingly, repeatedly even, though they know the sales aspect, we have a winner.

In a recent blog article titled “Why Everybody Has permission to Make All kinds of Content”, Gary Vaynerchuk, the unofficial poster boy for modern marketing, discussed the recent contract with Jon Stewart to produce short-form content for HBO. This contract marks a shift to validate short form content which will more and more become the standard format. While this is interesting in itself, Vaynerchuk suggests that the future will see companies and brands behind the creation of content for networks. “Fortune 500 companies absolutely have the financial means to produce something like Game of Thrones or House of Cards” he said, moving away from branded content to produce sponsored content.

We can see the seed of this in projects like Castello Cavalcanti and partnerships with directors like Wes Anderson to produce marketing content.

Producing good content makes you a market leader because you have an attentive audience. More, this attentive audience is likely to become a referral marketer on your behalf, sharing your content onto their own feeds, talking about it over dinner. With this kind of leverage there is no end to the possibilities.