How To Advertise While Staying Authentic To Your Brand
“Listen to the people that speak to the audience every day. They know what makes them click and can help guide you to getting the most impact.”
Welcome to the Collective World Careers Newsletter. Collective World is a one-of-a-kind creative network powered by the minds and voices behind The Thought & Expression Company. We’re so glad you’re here.
Today, we’re sitting down with Robbie Burton and Nida Bhimani, members of the Thought Catalog sales and partnership team, discussing the secrets to making an advertising campaign feel authentic, effortless, and beautiful.
Advertising is a type of strategic storytelling. It can be tricky to bridge the gap between the creative aspects of advertising with the analytical. What is your best advice for bridging that gap?
Nida: The best advice for bridging that gap would be balance. Having a media mix within advertising including beautiful ad units along with quality custom content (editorial, social) gives the user visual components (ad units) that stick, coupled with taking it a step deeper with the custom content to really bring it home.
Also, I think consistency with longer campaign flights including deeper content allows for a user to make a decision that’s not temporary, but rather one of longevity which then helps them become a lifer with a brand (as they gain more trust + connect more with the content) versus just a one time user. I do believe quality over quantity of content is very important, making sure each piece that is released has intention and purpose behind it because people can tell when something is half-assed.
Robbie: Listen to the people that speak to the audience every day. They know what makes them click and can help guide you to getting the most impact.
Thought Catalog is currently working on a partnership with ESPN+, which at first glance may feel surprising because Thought Catalog and ESPN+ have different audiences. That said, you still found a way to fuse both TC and ESPN+’s brands together into a successful campaign. How was this achieved?
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Nida: 40% of all sports participants are female, yet women's sports receive only 4% of all sport media coverage and female athletes are much more likely than male athletes to be portrayed in sexually provocative poses. For this reason, ESPN+ has a new initiative this year to really showcase women. Knowing this, I reached out to the team through our partnership with Disney+ and got connected with the team that was working on Fifty/50 which highlighted the civil rights journey of women across the sports and cultural landscape. The initiative commemorated the 50th anniversary of the passing of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any educational institution that receives federal funding, and gave women the equal opportunity to play. Since one of Thought Catalog’s pillars is women’s empowerment and inclusivity, this campaign aligned perfectly with the themes, widening the ESPN+ audience to more women/LGBTQ+.
Robbie: ESPN understands that Thought Catalog speaks to its audience on a deeper, more personal level. They were looking for that voice and approach to introduce their new Fifty/50 program celebrating the 50-year anniversary of Title IX and the growth of women’s sports.
What is your advice for making an advertisement beautiful?
Nida: Beauty can be subjective, but in my opinion, for our audience specifically, we know that long captions and long-form content are very popular and highly engaged with. Our time on page averages to about 2:24 which shows that people are consuming this content and are willing to spend time reading. I think beautiful creativity paired with words that resonate based on themes of a show or a brand are what makes a campaign pop. The connection we find with what the brand is trying to promote, directly tied to what we stand for, is the happy medium that helps everything flow together. Thought Catalog has always showcased intentional content allowing all voices to partake, and now that the world is more on board with this conscious consumption, we’re at an advantage as everything aligns.
Robbie: Be vigilant on the creative looking as sharp as it can, whether it’s graphics, photography, colors, or layout. Emphasis is often put on the exact words of a piece, but less so on simply how it looks on different platforms or devices.
What can companies gain from having advertising that feels organic and seamless as opposed to more traditional methods?
Nida: Companies can gain a long-time consumer versus a one-time consumer. It takes a while for people to build trust and stick with something. With organic content and not having bought any followers, we know our audience comes to us because they want to, not because they’re forced to. For this reason, our engagement consistently outperforms our competitors, as it isn’t “in your face” and more gentle/thematic with the approach. An approach that is relatable to your past, current, and future journey of life help brands connect with the audience on a day-to-day level as they think about themselves & their growth through shows, brands, etc.
Robbie: True engagement from a reader. We all recognize when a brand is going for a low-hanging fruit angle to get us to react or feel something. It takes more care and attention to go a step further and to really understand whether the user is at and delivering them a tailored message that the brand gets it and wants to help.
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