Content marketing has only a loose definition; some think of it as informational content added to a website to improve search ranking, others see it as a way to drive traffic to a website from social.

Going a little further, many brands select a content niche that often has little direct relation to their products. Creating content like this often isn’t enough; at this stage, content marketing moves into sponsorship, patronage, charity, brand association and media ownership on a scale most brands only dream of.

So who is taking content to the next level, and what scale are we talking about?

Louis Vuitton: art

In case you didn’t know, Louis Vuitton has commissioned Frank Gehry to design a stunning new building on the Bois De Boulogne in Paris.

This building will open in spring and be home to The Foundation Louis Vuitton, home to contemporary art exhibitions.

The Director of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris was snared to become the first Artistic Director of the gallery.

This is significant as it marks a point at which brands are starting to increasingly impact the world of the arts. While sponsorship has always been grand (think Bloomberg at the Tate), the internet means that museums and galleries no longer have a duty simply to collect knowledge; they also have an imperative to engage the public.

If brands such as Louis Vuitton are mixing popular culture, advertising, fine art, with rich media, and bringing it together on the Bois De Boulogne, wouldn’t the Parisian youth prefer to pay a visit here than to the Louvre?

Louis Vuitton has collected fine art for a while now as indeed it is inextricably linked to their history of fashion design. Their stores even feature priceless works of art, as the brand has sought to create that all important luxe shopping experience that you simply can’t get in H&M.

Here’s a Gilbert and George in one of their stores, you can read about their acquisitions here.

Burberry: music 

Christopher Bailey, Chief Creative Office at Burberry has spoken of how obsessed he and the brand are with music. The company has championed Tom Odell, and set up a music team within Burberry. 

You can see over 60 acoustic sets filmed for Burberry on its website and one of its YouTube channels as Burberry seeks to promote young artists and combine music with advertising and catwalk shows. 

Burberry also has charitable foundations centred around increasing the creative confidence of young people, and the brand’s association with music helps to deepen the idea that Burberry is at the cutting edge of what it means to be creative.

Again, like Louis Vuitton, this is disrupting some other industries, especially if young artists feel more able to shun tired career paths because of the patronage of Burberry.

Beck’s: art

Beck’s set the tone for the scale of brand enhancement and content in 2011 with its Green Box Project, still the focus of its website

This project sought to commission 1,000 works of art, inviting submissions from the public’s artists. Large green boxes were placed in cities across the world and could be augmented with the Beck’s Key app. 

Aside from this grand project, Beck’s, like Louis Vuitton, has patronised the arts for a long time, without having design heritage per se. 

Most are familiar with their commissioned bottle labels, featuring Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and others.

Beck’s also ran a cheeky alternative to the Turner Prize from 2000 to 2006.

Red Bull: sport

This is a fairly tired case study. Most of you will know about Red Bull’s content, if not the full extent of what the brand backs. 

Of course, the culmination of their efforts was seen in the awesome jump by Felix Baumgartner last year. 

But the extent of Red Bull’s involvement can be seen on the website’s sports channel

In fact, the Red Bull website itself shows the brand’s relentless focus on sport with the header menu barely mentioning products and the company, but focusing on sport, games and epic content. 

Conclusions

These brands have not only set the standard for others, they are actively disrupting the world outside of advertising and their traditional products.

Eventually this level of content creation and patronage opens up new revenue streams, but more importantly influence, for these cash rich companies.

Any other examples? Let us know…