Writing on Mumbrella, Lauren Quaintance argues that brands can do better journalism than publishers.
It’s a typically argument from a content marketer, but it’s one I’ve heard several times before. It goes that content markets can truly connect with their customers by using their expert knowledge to make themselves useful. Sure, they won’t, for the most part, be winning Walkley’s, but they can write entertaining, useful content valued by people more than name recognition is valued by the brand paying for it all.
This ad by Chipotle is often held up as an example of what can be achieved (and in fact is cited in defence of content marketing in the comments of the Mumbrella article). If you haven’t already, watch it. To the end.
Sure, it seems like it’s making a point. It’s beautifully created, the vocals are heart-wrenching, the conclusion is trite but satisfying. Until you get to the very end. Then, the music changes, you see an iPad, and suddenly, you realise you’ve just been sold an extended 3-minute introduction to one of those addictive but empty mobile games created to build brand engagement. The ending isn’t poignant - it feels tacked on, incongruous. It’s the sell, and it doesn’t fit.
If even the best content marketing feels like an ad, I’ve little hope for the rest of it.