On July 1, 1941, Bulova Watches aired the first-ever television commercial during the lead-in to a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. The 10-second commercial depicted a black and white outline of the United States sitting stoically on a screen, with the Bulova Watch logo emblazoned on it. For the first seven seconds, it stood in silence, like a classroom map eagerly imprinting a nation’s outlines on a child’s mind. Then, a voice-over chimed in: “America runs on Bulova time.”
Why did Bulova do it at a time when only 4,000 television sets existed in New York and television advertising was completely unchartered waters?
“I suppose that’s because we took pride in being a pioneer in marketing,” a spokesperson told Mashable recently.
Plus, the ad only cost the company nine dollars. That’s $138.45 in today’s money.
Bulova was the the first brand to break new ground in TV marketing, but many more soon followed in its wake. It’s hard not to see the parallels between television advertising 60 years ago and the content marketing movement of today, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the consumer packaged goods industry, where dozens of brands are using content to completely transform the way they connect with their customers.
Content as the new TV spot
Television advertising in the ’40s and ’50s was a very experimental challenge that required brands to tell their stories in a new way, an idea that still resonates today as brands become publishers. Like content marketing, television advertising was quite cheap when compared to the alternatives.
TV commercials seem like they’ve been around forever, but they were groundbreaking at the time and most brands avoided them. Many CPG brands have approached content marketing with similar trepidation, while some have embraced the challenge.
Without a doubt, CPG marketers find themselves at a crossroads, cognizant that they must adopt non-traditional methods to reach modern consumers who increasingly ignore coupon books and TV ads. Deciding what type of content to create, though, is a difficult task. Faced with a dizzying array of options, successful CPG content marketers have tried a little bit of everything to figure out what works best.
– Through its Content 2020 approach, Coca-Cola has placed a strong emphasis on storytelling to reach older consumers and experimental micro-sites—61 in the past year alone—to reach teens.
– Instead of creating a magazine (Cookie Quarterly?), Oreo decided to create 100 different pieces of content on the pulse of pop culture in 100 days, with only a vague idea of what would come next.
– The 135-employee Red Bull Media House has launched a magazine with 5 million subscribers, two film studios, and a record label.