Case Studies in Great Branded Content

(Third in a series on Branded Content)

Sometimes the best way to learn is by doing. And if you can’t do it right away, the second best way is to study others who do it well.

44883775_m.jpgHere are some brands and companies that led the pack when it came to creating great branded content that connected with their audience and converted into sales.

  • INSPIRATION: NIKE // “Unlimited” Content Series
    In this series, the brand featured a handful of famous athletes who have come up against insurmountable odds to become champions of endurance and self-mastery –both on and off the court. A docu-style profile of Serena Williams shows us first-hand how this Olympian used unlimited willpower to push through feelings of inadequacy or resistance. Another spot highlights the story of Chris Mosier, the world’s first Olympic transgender triathlete, who showcased unlimited courage as he broke through barriers to live and compete in the way that felt most authentic to him. The series, which was also part of a major campaign push back in 2016, evokes a sense of emboldened inspiration. This type of inspirational content is perfect for Nike’s audience, who like the brand itself, also value personal endurance, tenacity, grit, and drive.
  • EDUCATION: Cambria Quartz // “Dream. Plan. Do – The Inspired Kitchen with Scott McGillivray”
    In 2016, Cambria – a manufacturer of luxury quartzite countertops – launched a free education course with e-learning agency The Big Know as a way to educate homeowners (and potential customers) on the fundamentals of designing a dream kitchen. The educational web series was hosted by HGTV host Scott McGillivray and celebrity interior designer Jane Lockhart. The five-part video series outlined the basics of functional kitchen design, followed by more branded advice, such as how to select your countertops. Cambria’s marketing team did a good job of taking a common problem their audience has (managing a luxury kitchen remodel,) matching this with their interests and passions, (luxury design and HGTV) to create a branded content series that offered immense value at no cost to them. Cambria also surreptitiously and elegantly ‘sold’ their luxury product through a beautiful set and regular references to their product, reinforcing the beauty, quality, and durability of their quartz.

  • ENTERTAINMENT: Lego // “The Lego Batman Movie”
    The Lego Batman Movie wasn’t just an entertaining children’s film: it was also a brilliant, branded commercial that clocked in at around one-hour and forty-one minutes. Even though this film is essentially a feature-length ad for Lego’s products, the talent, story, and production quality of the film was so entertaining that it stood out.


  • INVOLVEMENT: Athleta // “The Power of She”
    Athleta has been empowering women through sport since their inception as a brand in 1998 as a catalog and web destination for high-end women’s athletic apparel. Their marketing has always sought to evoke a sense of community, tribalism, and inclusion from their audience. Their tagline; ‘the power of she’ became a powerful tool for the brand’s marketing strategy in 2016, when it was blown out as a large, full-scale campaign that included video assets for digital and social. The content series featured engaging stories of women in sport who found a sense of belonging and meaning in their band of fellow female athletes. With an intimate view of these woman and their lives, the personal perspectives offered in these films brought the Athleta ethos to women everywhere in a way that connected them to the brand on a deeper level.


(This is part three in a series on Branded Content. In future posts, we'll provide more education on how you can get started with branded content for your organization.)

Tim has been in the media production industry since his days as a U.S. Navy shipboard news anchor in the 1980s. Tim has a BA in Visual Communication from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communications. He has been President of Mastcom since 2002.