Two entrepreneurs meet at a cafe to discuss music and books in six languages. A young mother examines the sonogram of her son, relieved she will give birth to a healthy child. Doctors examine patient data to understand how prescription patterns play a role in the heroin epidemic.
While these subjects sound like Netflix documentary recommendations, they are, in fact, the focus of some of our top stories from Contently clients in 2016. This year, we worked with brands that reached new levels of sophistication by hiring journalists, building video newsrooms, and telling ambitious stories on a global scale. Here’s some of their best work.
ENI: “Life is changing…”
ENI, an Italian energy company, set the bar high with this short documentary that profiled five humanitarian projects in Mozambique. The 14-minute video takes a tour through the country’s northernmost towns, highlighting the experience of five villagers who have access to ENI’s health, education, employment, and energy services. Thoughtful interviews and beautiful cinematography give it a high-quality sheen that wouldn’t feel out of place on National Geographic.
In “Nine Language Boy Meets Six Language Girl,” two polyglots eat croissants while they discuss the essence of tango and exchange a Bengali book. As the philosophical conversation progresses, Babbel reveals how learning languages can open professional doors and provide a new lens for looking at the world. Even if I hadn’t written a story on Babbel’s content strategy, I still would’ve watched this clip on repeat.
Barilla: “Passion for Pasta”
In the last few years, gluten has been under attack. Once hipsters adopted plant-based alternatives into their daily regimen, pasta companies everywhere had to adapt. Barilla responded with a health-focused campaign that demonstrated the ways gluten products, like pasta, could be part of a well-balanced diet. The project, “Passion for Pasta,” is best represented by this infographic that offers a template for developing nutritious pasta dishes. (Italian restaurants everywhere rejoiced, we think.)
Shutterstock: The ’90s Campaign
In 2016, the ’90s had a revival of sorts: A Clinton running for president. Tarzan in theaters. Millions of people catching Pokémon. To capitalize on this neon-colored nostalgia, Shutterstock, a stock photography and videography company, developed a three-part video series that parodied classic commercials from three decades ago. Shutterstock invented the products in the commercials, but all of the footage and editing features were part of the company’s product offerings. The result is a video that combines affinity for ’90s culture with satire targeting millennial trends.
Morgan Stanley: “When Presidential Politics Comes to the Mall”
It’s standard procedure for brands to avoid political commentary, which is why Morgan Stanley’s October 2016 research on the varying outcomes of Clinton and Trump policy proposals was particularly refreshing.
In the article, Morgan Stanley cites original research to report on the way each candidate’s minimum wage, immigration, health care, and trade initiatives could impact consumer spending and the economy at large. The story presents unbiased research and, like any reputable news publication, relies on experts to forecast impending results. (Morgan Stanley also covered sustainable investment, including research on green bonds.)
Brown Brothers Harriman: Women & Wealth Magazine
In 2015, Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH) found that women were often overlooked in conversations with their financial advisers, even if they had higher incomes or more wealth than their partners. To give better attention to female consumers, BBH launched the Center for Women & Wealth with an accompanying magazine.
Its Summer Issue 2016 offers investment advice by delving into a macroeconomic issue that disproportionately impacts women: caregiving. Interviews focus on teaching men about caretaking and feminism, as well as how to cope with the added costs of a sick parent or spouse.
athenahealth: “Understanding the Opioid Crisis”
Athenahealth’s mission is to find insights in millions of medical records into that can assist physicians and improve patient care. In this longform piece of data analysis, the electronic healthcare company looks at the way prescription patterns can play a role in correcting the U.S.’s current opioid epidemic. The findings, which come straight from athenahealth’s research network, were also displayed with helpful visual content, such as this infographic, which breaks down opioid regulations by state.
Coca-Coca: UK ParkLives
In the last four years, Coca-Cola’s blog, Journey, has grown from a small newsroom in its Atlanta headquarters to a global operation active in over 25 countries. This expansion was part of the beverage company’s goal to localize its marketing efforts, showcasing Coke’s involvement in communities around the world.
Coca-Cola’s ParkLives initiative built on that momentum by telling stories about health and sustainability through a local lens in the UK. Journey documented the project through a series of compelling blog posts and videos, encouraging people to participate in free activities from Zumba to donkey grooming at nearby parks. The programs led to a consistent stream of compelling stories about individuals who accomplished personal feats, such as Melissa, who discovered that Nordic walking was actually pretty fun, and Sue, who used outdoor running as a way to build confidence and spend more time with her grandson.
JPMorgan Chase: “From the Ground Up”
In 2015, JPMorgan Chase showcased its storytelling abilities with the “From the Ground Up” series on community developments in Brownsville, Brooklyn. This year, the company took “From the Ground Up” to the West Coast, in Boyle Heights, California, where its four-part series chronicled first-generation graduates, growing women’s organizations, the fight for affordable housing, and the role of small business in the community.
The project proves just how in touch big banks can be with underserved communities. Video, a big 2016 initiative for JPMorgan Chase, was the perfect platform for people who don’t normally get to have their voices heard.