Much of the time, a brand’s TV commercials and branded content don’t intermingle. Sure, a brand’s TV commercials and branded content may stay loyal to the same general campaign, but commercials are still usually the domain of the old school ad guys, while branded content is cooked up by the new school digital shop downtown.
If you think about it, though, TV commercials and branded articles and videos are all the same thing: branded content. They’re just being distributed through different broadcast mediums.
That’s why State Farm’s new “Born to Assist” campaign with Chris Paul caught my attention as an intriguing recent example of how branded content and TV commercials can work in harmony.
On Christmas Eve, I visited Gawker Media’s popular sports site, Deadspin.com, and discovered that one of the few stories they’d posted that day was seriously intriguing. “EXCLUSIVE: Could This Be Chris Paul’s Secret Twin Brother?” the headline ran, and went on to detail a report that a tipster had sent in a photo and some background information on the secret twin brother of Chris Paul, the star point guard of the LA Clippers. Per normal procedure, the Deadspin article included the aforementioned picture and an email from the tipster:
Hey, I thought you might be interested in the attached picture. This is my buddy Cliff. I’ve been telling him since Chris Paul got drafted that the two of them could be brothers. As it turns out (given some news that Cliff just got about his dad) they actually might be. Chris is a totally normal, low-key dude from NC (works as a State Farm agent, does a terrible Michael Jackson impression, Instragrams pictures of his feet), so the whole thing is pretty overwhelming for him. I’m not sure he’s ready to talk about it, but I just had to share.
The article seemed a bit dubious, but reading it on my iPhone, I didn’t even notice that the piece was lightly marked as “Sponsored.” It stuck in the back of my mind until the next day, when I saw the debut of a State Farm commercial telling the story of Chris Paul and his secret twin brother, Cliff. I was genuinely surprised and entertained.
To further seed the premise of the campaign, State Farm even created a Twitter account for Cliff Paul (@CliffPaul), where “Cliff’ interacts with fans in a down-to-earth manner, and shares Instagram pictures of things like Blake Griffin wearing the Cliff Paul ‘stache. State Farm also got celebrities like Saints QB Drew Brees, ESPN’s Erin Andrews, and the actress La La to hype the “twins” story to millions of followers.
The sponsored story on Deadspin and Twitter tie-ins won’t play a colossal role in the success of State Farm’s campaign, but they were smart, cost effective moves that have the entire campaign working in concert. Brand marketers would be smart to take notice and start brainstorming ways for their commercials and branded content to work together.
State Farm’s new “Born to Assist” campaign serves as an intriguing recent example of how branded content and TV commercials can work in harmony.