[Posted by Mary Beth Kemp]

Mary Beth Kemp

On New Year’s Day, 2010, three young bloggers will begin touring the world, to try to figure out what makes people happy; and report it all through social media.  During the year, they’ll visit 206 countries and travel hundreds of thousands of miles… on behalf of Coca-Cola.  If you’re like me, you might wonder if they’ll get to keep the frequent flyer miles; or more seriously, how Coke became the arbiter of international happiness.   


To get our attention as consumers, brands are appropriating our passions, our interests, and yes, even our happiness.  Sometimes this association is a flop and sometimes it rings true.  It comes down whether the brand “really” has a compelling story to tell, and can make a contribution to the discussion.  Money helps, obviously. And although money can’t buy happiness, it can certainly help finance the discussion.     


Branded content — content produced under the direction of a brand that captures people’s passions and interests — can be a very effective way to build engaging relationships with consumers. Examples like Procter & Gamble “Being girl”, or Unilever‘s “In the Motherhood” series have proven that.  But many marketers are not equipped for the care and feeding of a content strategy.  And others may find their brand turns out to be the equivalent of the uninvited guest at the dinner party.  


Branded content is compelling, but not without risk.   To help you avoid some of the potential heartache, my colleague Kim LeQuoc and I have just published “Adding Branded Content To The Marketing Mix” which walks you through how to plan your brand becoming a content provider.  This is a subject we’ll continue to develop, so once you’ve read this, please let us know if you find it useful and what other aspects you’d like us to research. 


If you've already been there and done that, please share with us what was useful or troubling about your experience.  And do tell us: did it “work”?  Of course, if you’ve seen branded content that you think we should know about – good or bad; happy or unhappy – please send it our way too.  


And lastly, please join us in wishing those 3 brave – and hopefully happy – souls, touring the world to uncover the secret of cheer, "Bon Voyage!" Let's keep an eye on what they find out.