Whiskas cat

11 Content Marketing Tips From Uncle Ben’s and Whiskas

By: Drew Neisser, Founder & CEO, Renegade

December 4, 2019

Rob Rakowitz, former global director of media at Mars (today, initiative lead for the Global Alliance for Responsible Media) has done a variety of compelling content marketing for companies from Snickers to the cat food brand Whiskas and Uncle Ben’s.

So, what can the man from Mars tell us about his content marketing strategy? Among other things, keep it simple. In his view, the more you can simplify your vision, the better an idea travels. Gone are the days when you could just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. Instead, marketers need a targeted approach informed by data, and they need to set a simple goal.

Back when he was leading media efforts at Mars, I sat down with Rakowitz to get his perspective on how to approach content marketing. Below, his top insights.

Mars, Rob Rakowitz, former global director of media,

Rob Rakowitz, former global director of media, Mars (Today: initiative lead for the Global Alliance for Responsible Media)

Aim for 4C Conversion. Uncle Ben’s, Pedigree and Snickers understand they need to reach more consumers by figuring out their brand’s purpose and provid[ing] the solution that brings brand, consumer and customer together. It’s what I like to call 4C Conversion, where we bring consumers, customers, communications and commerce closer.

Use data to determine a fitting brand purpose. Uncle Ben’s is about helping consumers make sure that they’re making great food choices on a daily basis. When we get into the data, we find that consumers who start meals with rice are more likely to choose a lean protein or a vegetable to go with it. This leads to healthier outcomes. That’s what’s behind a lot of what we do from a content perspective, like with our program Ben’s Beginners, which aims to get kids and parents cooking together.

Lean on a combination of in-house marketers and agency partners for creative. In the U.K., we had this new ready-to-heat product that comes in a little pouch and is easy to make. What we found was that consumers weren’t aware of it; they didn’t see it as being relevant. Luckily enough, we had smart agency folks and smart marketing folks. They decided a typical TV spot would fail because it wasn’t going to reach the right audience or overcome the relevancy issue. So we created a series of short videos. Then we put them online, looked at the behavior metrics, figured out which videos were popping and what recipes were actually working. The video centered around a celebrity chef who shows up at a park, starts cooking meals, engages people who are living healthy and active lifestyles and shows them—in two minutes—how to cook a healthy meal.

Review metrics and repurpose video across channels. With these videos, we looked at performance metrics. We then figured out how to take two-minute videos and cut them down to 30 seconds, which we could put on TV, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It was a very content-driven idea backed by behavioral data. We were able to use social media to make sure the content was as personal as possible. And it yielded some really nice business results for us.

Drew Neisser Founder and CEO RENEgade

Drew Neisser, founder and CEO, Renegade

Consider combining traditional and new media. Any marketer worth their salt today knows that if you’re dealing with mass audiences and mass reach, it’s not a question of “or” but “and.” What you want is an approach where you’re thinking about multiple channels in combination. Are there certain brands where a digital-only approach will make sense? Absolutely. But for Uncle Ben’s, a combination of TV and digital was optimal.

Tie engagement to sales. The two measures we’re obsessed with are reach and sales. First, we look at the overall reach of the content program. We also did some testing to actually make sure there was a positive lift in sales. That’s generally the way we look at measurement. Within the campaign we look at metrics including likes, shares and comments. What we did for Uncle Ben’s was [leverage] behavioral digital metrics that are available to a lot of marketers.

Aim for content that both educates and entertains. For Whiskas, recognizing that people who are adopting cats or kittens weren’t equipped with the knowledge they should have as new pet owners, we created Kitten Kollege. Featuring irreverent tongue-in-cheek videos, we equipped kitten parents with the insight they need to understand life stages and leaps forward that their kitten is going through. Partnering with Google and YouTube (and eventually some of our retail partners in local markets), we raised the brand’s profile, simultaneously educating and entertaining—and then closing the gap with commerce.

Coordinate translation for global campaigns. We rolled out [the Whiskas campaign] market by market. In certain markets, we had it dubbed and other markets we had it subtitled—[necessary for] a global program.

Plan ROI from the start. Get obsessed over the business challenge. Don’t be lazy about briefing the agency; uncover where your growth would be coming from and how that translates to tangible consumer behavior.

Be agile with resources. Don’t plan your full budget to the last cent. Hold some funds back for a timely opportunity.

Avoid over-selling in copy and creative. Don’t message push. Think about creating an experience and a solution.

Drew Neisser is the founder and CEO of New York City-based agency Renegade. This article originally appeared on SocialMediaExplorer.com and What’s Shakin’ in April 2017. Republished with permission.

Follow Drew: @DrewNeisser

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