The custom content that rocked 2019
We are taking a metaphorical moment here at C&EN BrandLab to catch our breath after the whirlwind that was 2019. It was another busy year for us as we stayed strong in our belief that content, when done well, makes a strong impression.
While we have enjoyed all of our clients’ campaigns, as we pause to take in what we launched in 2019, three projects stand out. One for its enormity in scale. Another for its focus on a serious topic, but also its ability to find a lighthearted element of fun. The third allowed us to take a client’s challenge in obscurity and turn it into a story that would resonate with our entire audience.
The project that was huge in scale was for a chemical made of tiny particles. Aqueous colloidal silica is one of those unsung heroes of chemistry. It is used in many industries, including beer-making and manufacturing airplane parts, but most people have never heard of it or understand how it gets used. One of our clients, W. R. Grace & Co. who sells aqueous colloidal silica as its LUDOX® product line, wanted aqueous colloidal silica to get its due recognition.
As a publisher, we know how to get distribution for a story. As a custom content studio, we know how to tell the story for our advertisers. So we at C&EN BrandLab spent 2019 developing numerous content pieces on aqueous colloidal silica’s fundamental properties and applications, and matched them with dedicated marketing and awareness campaigns. We created:
- A three-part native advertising campaign in C&EN, which told the history, present applications, and future prospects of colloidal silica. The narrative storytelling helped Grace promote its brand, explaining the who, what, where and why that a news audience is accustomed to.
- Two standalone ebooks then dug into specific research academics are doing with colloidal silica. As they were lead generation products, the ebooks also helped Grace get fresh leads for their sales team.
- A contest and a quiz for Grace to further engage our audience. The contest asked people to tell us how they were using colloidal silica in their research. We used the entries to find a researcher (who also won a $250 gift card) to highlight in one of the ebooks and show how his team was using colloidal silica in an interesting way. The quiz was an interactive piece to engage our audience to see how much they knew about colloidal silica.
The ebooks and native advertising series all were anchored in our core strength of telling stories. But C&EN BrandLab has a whole host of other capabilities, from design to web production, and telling the story was just one piece of this puzzle. With all this content at our disposal, we put together a dedicated microsite for Grace, “The World of Colloidal Silica”, that lets people spend lots of time exploring the many facets of colloidal silica. We incorporated video and other engagements, and had a clear home to direct people to from every social push and link back.
We had a lot of fun with quizzes in 2019, too, and worked with other clients to bring this creative and interactive element to their campaigns. One such client was The United Soybean Board. We developed two different quizzes, and our own team greatly enjoyed exploring how much we already knew – and didn’t know – about the myriad ways soy can be used (spoiler: it’s not just tofu and soy sauce). Our first quiz, “The Joys of Soy”, tested readers to see how well they knew all the uses of soy products outside of food. “Soy Science in Soaps and Detergents” asked chemists how much they knew about soy products that get used in soaps and detergents, drilling down even further into The United Soybean Board’s product lines.
Another notable project started with a challenge. An instrumentation company, Anton Paar, approached us to help them showcase machines that measure powders. These measurements aren’t commonplace but they are critical in some industrial applications.
How could we show that these relatively unknown measurements had real-world ramifications? We came up with “Powder Play”, a story that describes how these instruments are important in making powders for the food, pharmaceutical and 3-D printing industries. The story helped bring instruments to the forefront that are not well-known but do critical work behind the scenes.
With 2020 now upon us, we at C&EN BrandLab are even more convinced about the power of storytelling. We have case studies to prove that storytelling for brands works extremely well when expertly done. We look forward to another year of creating evocative stories to leave a lasting impression on people about the wonders of chemistry.