The first issue of National Geographic magazine was released in 1888 to a world absent of both film and radio. Over 120 years later, this non-for profit iconic brand continues to recognize and adapt to the times in order to meet consumer demand. While adapting to the proper platform for distribution is certainly important, what impressed me most about the National Geographic NewFront was their overall strategy behind their digital original programming slate.
National Geographic appears to understand the need to tell stories in a unique way to make them stand out amongst the vast sea of content being created today. The company’s underlying desires to “inspire, illuminate, and educate” was prevalent throughout much of the discussion.
The brand understands what makes them unique and what drives audience passion – made clear by the announcement of two new programs, Extreme Exposure and Photo Impact, which take us into the lives and stories of those behind the camera. There are men and women who risk their lives to let us see into a world we otherwise would never see.
In the Explorers Project, Nat Geo will offer an inside look at scientists out in the field and why they do their work. The piece showcased during the presentation followed a scientist in Madagascar who had a unique take on the role of humans and nature. This scientist doesn’t just retell the familiar conservation story; instead, he explains why and how humans must take advantage of nature around us to improve our lives.
Marketers may not know this, but National Geographic has one of the largest social media footprints of any publisher in the world. Beautiful and un-matched photography is what drives consumers to “like”, “follow”, and engage with the brand. If the right form of partnership is formulated and brands are able to connect with this passionate group in an organic and meaningful way, the impact could be enormous.
I was personally surprised to learn that Nat Geo is a non-for profit organization, which made me think about the brand through a completely different lens. There is a deep and meaningful force driving everything they do. Listening to various explorers and photographers speak about their work made it very clear that National Geographic is the ultimate destination for many passionate experts.
For many brands, Nat Geo should be looked at as an untapped resource. The connected world we live in has created an ever-changing, oversaturated content eco-system - and brands are constantly striving to break through the clutter and be heard. Branded content and co-creation continue to grow as a means for breaking through the clutter and providing something meaningful to viewers. Perhaps brands should also consider publicly standing alongside publishers like Nat Geo, whose altruistic cause has withstood the test of time.
Written by Oliver Schenkel, Associate Director, Media/Content, DigitasLBi