As a content marketer, you’re regularly asked to give more to benefit your brand. But on Thanksgiving Day in the United States, you get to ask for more – turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.
Sharing a meal with your family and friends or just relaxing and recharging your creative energies is a gift worthy of gratitude. To honor that, I’ve gathered outstanding content marketing examples that capture the essence of this holiday.
Some have been recognized as winners and top finalists at this year’s Content Marketing Awards. All are worth digging into.
Sharing a meal
Whether your plans involve a big family dinner, dining out, or a chill friends-giving potluck, food is a big focus for this holiday. To whet people’s appetites, marketers have put a bounty of tasty content tidbits on the table that can satisfy even the pickiest palates.
Aviation Gin – Negroni Week
If you wonder what sports team owner, social media spokes-star, and Marvel superhero Ryan Reynolds can’t do, here’s your answer: Stomach the world’s obsession with pumpkin spice.
In this hilarious Instagram video, Aviation Gin followers can practically taste the pitchman’s disdain for the unofficial flavor of fall. If the bleeped profanity spilling from Ryan’s mouth leaves a bad taste in viewers’ mouths, they can wash it away with his Aviation-based Negroni cocktail recipe. Pumpkin devotees offended by his spicy take might want to stick around to the end of the video for Ryan’s reluctant apology.
Hellmann’s – The Vegans
@b1gdee #stitch with @Jamie Milne To say I’m honoured to win The Vegans best original lunch dish would be an understatement #TheVeganAwards #HellmannsCanadaPartner #greenscreen #veganfood #plantbased #vegantiktok #veganfoodinspiration ♬ original sound – Big D
Speaking of controversial tastes, people who prefer plant-based foods have often felt left out, mocked, or downright bullied, especially during this turkey-centric holiday.
To promote its line of vegan salad dressings, Hellmann’s Canada offset that hate with a grand gesture of love. The result is The Vegans – the world’s first award show exclusively on TikTok. Ironically, the award show won Best Use of Social Media in this year’s Content Marketing Awards.
For a month, the brand selected foodie micro-influencers to create mouth-watering recipes with Hellmann’s vegan dressings as the hero product. The entrants posted their recipe videos to TikTok and encouraged viewers to vote for their favorites.
Then, Hellmann’s brought on high-profile influencer Jamie Milne (@everything_delish) to host an awards show on the platform, where winners showed off their trophies and gave acceptance speeches.
A Hellmann’s representative says the company was fully satisfied with the effort’s marketing impact: The micro-influencers’ videos garnered more than 17 million views, delivered a 7.5% engagement rate on organic content, and drove a 22% increase in #vegan searches on TikTok within Canada. Most importantly, the initiative increased the brand’s share in the fast-growing plant-based foods category.
Taking the turkey to-go
Traveling on Thanksgiving can feel like the launchpad for an eagerly awaited experience or a necessary evil that tests patience and sanity. Either way, travel and hospitality brands, such as Marriott, are on standby to share content filled with ideas to make your journeys as enjoyable as possible.
Tastemakers’ The Luxury Collection
What’s the point of traveling over the holidays if you don’t return with photos inducing FOMO (fear of missing out) to share on Instagram? It’s a question Marriott asks and answers with its Tastemakers social media campaign.
To highlight its high-end chain of properties – The Luxury Collection – as a desirable destination, the brand partnered with micro-influencers within aspirational niches, such as artists, stylists, chefs, and entrepreneurs.
The brand added a twist to stand out in the sea of standard posed and polished pics. According to the company, the tastemakers were asked to film using their phones and provide unedited footage from their trips.
Their selfies and snapshots were fashioned into Reels, creating mini travelogues for the brand’s social channels. Marriott also interviewed tastemakers for a series of articles published on The Luxury Collection website, giving its social stars a chance to share their perspective on travel through the lens of their craft.
In the example above, celebrity stylist and costume designer Shiona Turini shows off her stay at the posh hotel The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona, including alfresco dining, a trip to the spa, and sunset hikes. It perfectly positions the tranquility and natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert as a place where fellow artists can relax and find inspiration.
Showing gratitude is what this day is all about. Many consumers honor that by donating to food drives, volunteering at shelters and soup kitchens, or opening their homes to neighbors and friends. While brands often use content to support those efforts, they also use their media platforms to contribute to the greater good in other ways.
United Airlines – Chief Trash Officer
After you’re done cleaning your plate, look at this United Airlines’ effort, which issues a grouchy reminder that your leftovers can help preserve the Earth’s natural resources.
To highlight its investment in more sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) sources – including biofuel made from cooking oil, banana peels, and other organic trash – the airline appointed Oscar the Grouch as the company’s first chief trash officer.
United crammed a load of fun educational content onto a website page befitting Sesame Street’s favorite curmudgeonly Muppet. In its ABCs of SAF section, Oscar is featured in a colorful series of Instagram Reels-like slides that show materials that help fuel the brand’s fleet, such as “G is for gross grass clippings” and “L is for leafy leftovers.”
Site visitors can also find video clips capturing the chief trash officer’s first day and links to more serious initiatives around United’s commitment to combatting climate change.
In the example above, a uniformed United flight attendant (also named Oscar) finds the new garbage executive in his office behind a desk piled high with moldy sandwiches, apple cores, and other organic waste. The human Oscar talks trash with his sloppy colleague, noting that turning the mess on the desk into fuel helps reduce a plane’s lifecycle emissions. He explains that by working together, they can help get people more passionate about United’s energy conservation efforts.
Salesforce – Ecopreneurs
In contrast to United’s lighthearted approach, Salesforce and FORTUNE Brand Studio produced an environmental education campaign that carries a bit more gravitas. The two businesses partnered up to produce The Ecopreneurs – a documentary-style video series that lets the audience see groundbreaking efforts to combat climate change.
As CMI’s article on the project details, each of the 11 profiles innovative environmental work at some of the world’s most remote and awe-inspiring ecosystems. Viewers are invited to join their journeys, from underwater explorations of regenerated seascapes to reforestation efforts at the top of the Andes Mountains’ 15,000-foot peaks.
The content partners also packaged their research, interviews, images, and videos into a content hub for each episode. According to the companies’ representatives, the personal storytelling enabled them to “demonstrate a global commitment to climate action while appealing to audiences outside traditional B2B areas.” It also appealed to Content Marketing Awards judges, who selected it as the 2023 Project of the Year.
The Humane Society: Beagle Puppy Rescue
The Humane Society of the United States depends on donations to support its rescuing of mistreated animals. One group of supporters are consumers who count their pets as their family members (or prefer their company over their human holiday guests).
The organization’s Content Marketing Award-winning quarterly magazine, All Animals, is filled with content that appeals to animal lovers. Yet, its senior editorial director, Emily Hamlin Smith, also believes in using video to illustrate the real-world impact of its work.
“I think that every animal has a story … They can’t tell it in their own words, so they need us to do that for them,” Emily says. “You can do it through words or visuals, and I think that when you put the two together, it can be incredibly powerful.”
You’ll find evidence of that power in the Beagles Arrive video above, which details the society’s involvement in a large-scale mission to find homes for more than 4,000 beagle puppies rescued in 2022 from a breeding facility in Cumberland, Virginia.
Viewers can see the gratitude in the dogs’ soulful eyes as they’re carried off the plane and into the caring arms of the humane society team. If that doesn’t compel you to reach for your wallet, it might get you to reach under the table to give your pets an extra Thanksgiving treat.
Enjoying a football game
Football is a popular pastime on U.S. Thanksgiving. Whether consumers plan to score some touchdowns in their yard or play armchair quarterback with a drink in their hands, a great content play can help push the excitement into overtime.
State Farm Insurance – Jazz Bath
While State Farm’s Content Marketing Award-winning viral video ad, Jazz Bath, doesn’t show any big football plays, it does feature one of the sport’s biggest stars, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
In the video, Patrick chats with the brand’s khakis-and-red-shirt clad spokes-character – Jake from State Farm – about the insurer’s personal price plan. While Jake clarifies the purpose of the “personal” product, the enrobed quarterback proceeds with his relaxation ritual of soaking in a scented tub. Meanwhile, the team’s equipment guy (played by actor/comedian Mark Sipka) pops in with his saxophone to add some musical ambiance.
When the ad became a viral hit, it inspired State Farm to turn the effort into a jazzy multimedia campaign, complete with an original CD – Jazz Bath: The Bath Bomb Sessions. Offering the CD for free online enabled fans to infuse the brand into their relaxation rituals at home.
Connecting with friends and family
No matter what’s on the table – or where that table is located – Thanksgiving is a great time to gather with the people you care about. It serves as a reminder that building and reinforcing meaningful human connections should always be the focus of your content marketing.
From the CMI team to yours, we hope you find time to relax this holiday season so you can return refreshed and ready to create content experiences your audience can’t wait to dig into.
Updated from a November 2022 post.
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