By Andrew Davis published November 13, 2012

How Your Content Marketing Can Ignite a Movement

caines-arcade-content-creativityA charming film

If you haven’t seen Nirvan Mullick’s short (10-minute) film called “Caine’s Arcade,” watch it now. You’ll be glad you did — and the rest of this inaugural ContentVenn post is going to make a lot more sense. (If you have seen it, read on!)

The power of great content marketing

Caine’s Arcade is unbelievably powerful content. It is emotional, heart-warming, and inspired. Caine’s Arcade is so powerful, in fact, that it has spawned a movement. When Nirvan posted the video on April 9, 2012, viewers immediately began donating money towards a scholarship fund for Caine Monroy. Ten days after the release of the film, Caine’s scholarship fund hit the $170,000 mark. That’s powerful content. And it all could have ended there. But it hasn’t.

Creating a movement, creating content opportunities

Six months after Caine’s Arcade became a “viral success” it has become a real movement. It’s more than just a Vimeo success story. Today, that 10-minute film has spawned a full-fledged nonprofit with a real mission, real corporate underwriters, and tons more content. Go ahead, check out the Imagination Foundation, whose mission is to “find, foster, and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in kids.”

On the Imagination Foundation’s website, you can find a list of its corporate partners, which include Crayola, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Adobe, Echoing Green, Nokia, and art supply store Blick.

Now here’s the problem: None of those brands — literally, not one of them — seems to be creating valuable content in direct support of Caine’s Arcade, Imagination Foundation, or even Caine’s recent Cardboard Challenge. (Please, if you have created some valuable content — not a Tweet or meaningless Facebook post — let me know.)

Capitalizing on a movement without destroying its authenticity

I’m not inviting these brands to create meaningless, self-serving content marketing efforts that depict kids using Crayola markers to make their own arcades. I’m actually wondering why not one of these brands has decided to create a weekly YouTube show showcasing the ingenuity of one classroom and their kids each and every week? Why hasn’t Saran Wrap donated money to Nirvan (who’s obviously a talented filmmaker) to profile one new arcade game from around the world? Why hasn’t Staples (which sells cheap calculators) or Uline (which sells billions of boxes) or Waste Management (which recycles stuff) embraced the opportunity to create powerful content that started with viral video success?

What if…

These brands, and many more, are passing up an opportunity to make a real difference. What if all these brands partnered together (that’s a “Brandscape”) to create an educational movement in elementary schools around the world? Instead of seeing their sponsorship as an exploitative campaign, these brands could create real content marketing that continues to build on the success of the original Caine’s Arcade.

What if you look at all the nonprofits you and your company contribute to and commit to creating valuable content for those nonprofits once a month? What passions can you embrace? What movements can your brand ignite?

Ask yourself…

What content can your brand embrace to create a movement or tap a trend?

For more insight and examples of brand storytelling that can increase customer interest, read Andrew Davis’ book,Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships.”

Author: Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis’ 20-year career has taken him from local television to "The Today Show". He's worked for The Muppets in New York and marketed for tiny start-ups as well as Fortune 500 brands. In 2001, Andrew Davis co-founded Tippingpoint Labs, where he changed the way publishers think and how brands market their products. For more than a decade, as Tippingpoint’s chief strategy officer, Andrew rallied his team to change the way content creators think, authentic talent is nurtured, and companies market their products. Today, he’s traveling the globe sharing his insight, experience, stories, and optimistic ideals through his wildly fascinating speaking engagements, guest lectures and workshops. His most recent book, "Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships" hit shelves in September, 2012. Andrew is also an instructor for the Content Marketing Institute Online Training and Certification program. Follow Andrew on Twitter @TPLDrew.

Other posts by Andrew Davis

  • Nick Stamoulis

    Content inspires content. There are plenty of examples of this on the web, especially YouTube. The Sh#t Girls Say video spawned thousands of videos from different content creators across the world. Same thing happened with the “Call Me Maybe” lip dub video phenomenon. Brands need to capitalize on this. The reason being that content is popular for limited periods of time, so creating relevant and engaging content is time sensitive when working off of content that already exists.

    • tpldrew

      Thanks for your comment! While I love your premise – content begets content – I’m not a big fan of jumping on the ‘viral’ content band wagon. Those are one-hit-wonders (even if they do get some buzz) I’m not sure they actually add much value. But that’s my opinion.
      Thanks again!
      – drew

  • Mark Capaldini

    Wonderful video and story of creativity, content, and community. Thanks for sharing and for posing the question about untapped potential to do more. Are potential corporate partners reluctant to do more because of concerns about brand ownership? If one creative kid’s college education can be funded, why can’t it be done for others?

    • tpldrew

      Thanks for the comment. I think corporate partners aren’t reluctant to do more – they don’t even think about it. They sponsor something and hope the sponsored organization has the resources to extend their reach. (Not to mention the fact that the Corporate Giving teams never talk to Marketing…)
      Great question and exactly what marketers should be asking themselves. What content can we create to help the foundations we already support?

  • Carmelo Bryan

    What a cool story. And it really goes to show how easily a message can be spread these days. On a smaller scale, look at what fun your business could be if it was a business that came out of your own passions, fun, and loves.

    It begs the question: How many of us are pursuing money making propositions only … that have no foundation in personal passion?

    • tpldrew

      Great question. Someone I recently heard speak (I can’t remember who) said “First find the passion-then the revenue will come.” I think it’s actually good advice.!

  • Debbie Williams

    Such an inspiring post Drew! That video warmed my heart and brought tear to my eye:) As usual, I hope the brands mentioned in this post really take your advice to heart. Thank you for sharing this! And for anyone else reading, you have to check out Brandscaping!

    • tpldrew

      Thanks so much for the ringing endorsement. I’ll be honest… I cried too – the first 3 times I watched it. It’s such a powerful film. (Get back to writing!)

  • Nick Meehan

    A very inspiring post. And after watching both films, I’ve been inspired by Caine’s creativity and unwavering positivity!

    I think the idea of sponsoring education around the world is great, and really speaks to what sponsorship is about. Wanting to connect one’s brand to an idea, event or movement.

    Connecting one’s brand with making the world a better place is probably one of the best things it can do. I hope the partners you’ve mentioned above heed your advice and help to make the world better.

    • tpldrew


      It certainly is inspiring! I really do believe that instead of just thinking about a relationship like this as a “sponsorship” which by definition is an exploitative relationship, I think brands could actually make a big difference in the world if they used their marketing muscle to spread the word.

      The more people that make cardboard arcades the more calculators everyone will sell… the more crayons people will buy… the more saran wrap people purchase. These brands should get more people making cardboard arcades… it’ll make the world a better place!

      Thanks for reading (and commenting) Nick!

      I actually talked about the difference between a sponsorship and an underwriter in Today’s Marketing Profs podcast…

      Have a great day!

  • Elizabeth Joss

    REALLY LOVELY 🙂 And so inspiring. Puts us to shame doesn’t it?

    • tpldrew


      It’s a wonderfully created piece. If you’re looking for something else inspiring – a guy I know named Max Esposito created this video:

      These videos leave you with so many unanswered questions… including… how can I get involved!
      – Drew

  • Diana H. Polisensky

    Love your ideas for brands to foster nonprofits and promote creativity around the world. Wonderful heartwarming story. Reminds me of you and the Magic and Marionettes Theatre you had when you were 8 years old in Houston. What if we’d had the media opportunities of today?