I’ve been keeping my eye on how brands are using blogs to create their own, customized online sponsorship. Although these are really just blogs that are built and maintained by a brand team/marketing department, I call it an online “sponsorship” because it’s not JUST about the product(s). It’s really more of a blog that appeals to the target consumer, with product placement or brand mentions built in.
Here are a couple examples of brands that are creating their own online sponsorships:
The Cleanest Line
Patagonia might do this better than anyone. Patagonia’s blog is called The Cleanest Line and it covers topics that are meaningful to the brand: outdoors activities and environmentalism. Although they do discuss Patagonia products, the blog is more focused on topics that are of interest to the consumer, and because of that, it comes off as totally authentic. It’s almost like talking to the sales clerk at the outdoor store: product is part of the conversation since he’s there to sell you some stuff, but he’s also willing to give you advice on where to hike or paddle that weekend. The authenticity and interesting content will keep readers engaged in the blog – which results in Patagonia keeping their name and image top of mind with the right consumers.
Kenneth Cole is implementing the same tactic, but in a slightly different way. Their blog, Awearness is all about politics and social activism. Unlike Patagonia, who sprinkles in product info, the only links to the brand I could find are Kenneth Cole’s Intro/Profile and a few play on words (Awearness and Clothes Mindedness) in the name and section headers of the blog. There’s a ton of content on this blog and I love the message they’re communicating, but I’m having a hard time seeing the benefit to the brand if the only branding is via these elements. I would rather see less content, and more about how the Kenneth Cole brand is adding value to the cause.
Marketers beware: This may look like a great way to build some online presence to a targeted audience, but maintaining blogs like this take up a lot of time and energy. It’s easy to jump into a project like this without realizing the time commitment necessary to make it work. If you’re going to do it, you need to be willing to sacrifice a lot of time…or have the momey to hire someone to do it for you.