What do the world’s most famous restaurant guide, the first soap opera, and a calendar from the 18th century have in common? They are all examples of content marketing from a time long before content marketing was a concept.
As early as 1732, a marketing campaign was carried out that could probably be classified as a form of content marketing, according to most in the industry. It was none other than the inventor and politician Benjamin Franklin who had calendars published and distributed – to market his printing company.
But in what way is this an example of content marketing? Isn’t it just plain advertising?
THE DEFINITION OF CONTENT MARKETING
According to the definition of industry organization Swedish Content Agencies, content marketing is “content that is perceived as interesting and relevant by the target group. By offering content that the recipient values, the sender can build its brand and initiate or strengthen relationships”.
Consequently, something value-creating, something more than just a buying opportunity and a selling argument. That the company, in this case, offered content that the recipient valued and therefore had reason to seek out and save, which is at the same time built the brand building.
THE GRAND OLD LADY OF CONTENT MARKETING
Another example of early content marketing is much better known. In fact, it is so well known that the content marketing aspect itself is quickly forgotten. This is by far the world’s most powerful restaurant guide, content marketing’s grand old lady Guide Michelin, which turns 120 this year.
The red book’s goal was marketing which was clearly stated initially: to get more drivers out on the roads and drive longer distances. The connection to driving and tires was somewhat more apparent when the first edition of 35,000 copies was published; it contained tips on car repair shops, motels and attractions for the car trip. But still, a purpose of driving longer (hence greater wear on the tires) is evident in the rating system: two stars are awarded to restaurants worth a detour, three stars are worth a trip in themselves.
Dared to invest in a truly long-term campaign
The fact that Guide Michelin is an editorial product, which is also very well written, makes me as a journalist like it even more. The guide’s credibility with restaurant visitors, owners and chefs are sky high, and its contribution to the brand awareness of the tire company can hardly be overestimated. If anything, it shows the importance of daring to be long-term in editorial marketing. Who dares to stand for the next immortal classic in the category?
MORE HISTORICAL EXAMPLES OF CONTENT MARKETING
- 1732: Benjamin Franklin’s printing company distributes free calendars to promote its services.
- 1801: The bookstore Librairie Galignani in Paris begins to publish its own magazine with articles written by influential authors to increase sales. Contemporary editorial content marketing strategies – 220 years ago!
- 1888: Just two years after the company was founded, the pharmaceutical and medical technology giant Johnson & Johnson published the journal Modern Methods of Antiseptic Wound Treatment, with medical doctors as its primary target group.
- 1895: American agricultural machinery manufacturer John Deere releases The Furrow magazine, which advises farmers on becoming more efficient and profitable. The magazine still exists and has a circulation of 1.5 million in 40 countries.
- 1901: The first edition of the Michelin Guide sees the light of day.
- 1933: Procter & Gamble begins broadcasting a self-produced radio drama to promote the product Oxydol soap powder. Marketing was more than just product placements. It was woven together with the dramatic narrative, and the company had complete control of the production. The drama series gave rise to the term soap opera.