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The schmickest: Top 5 sponsored content

The world’s most respected media companies are collaborating with brands to create sponsored content.

Sponsored content doesn’t need to be an awkward interlude in a user’s experience. Here are some of our favourites to help inspire your next sponsored content collaboration.

Concrete Playground and Mazda: The Playmaker

Sponsored content - the playmaker
Lifestyle website Concrete Playground partnered with Mazda to create a piece of interactive content that generates local recommendations based on the users’ preferences.

The collaboration was part of Mazda’s ‘Detours’ campaign, which promoted short, city-based experiences, and leveraged Concrete Playground’s cultural network, giving users customised options based on the time of day, their location and what they were in the mood for.

“The Playmaker is designed to gamify your next night out plan,” Richard Fogarty, founder and director of Concrete Playground, said.

“We’re tapping into our audience’s love of interactivity and personalisation by delivering relevant suggestions to readers based on their time, date, location and preferences.

“It could be dinner suggestions for tonight, where to invite your next date for brunch, or which coastal walk you should do on Sunday morning.”

In addition to the interactive content, Concrete Playground also produce a daily “detour”, encouraging readers to venture outside of their daily routine and discover new restaurants, galleries, bars and more.

The Atlantic and Xerox: Working Better

Widely known for producing photocopiers, recently Xerox was in danger of joining the ranks of Blockbuster, Nokia and Kodak as a brand whose function was once indispensable, and is now rapidly becoming obsolete.

To help reposition the brand as a world leader in enhancing efficiency in the workplace, it partnered with The Atlantic to create the ‘Working Better’ program, using qualitative research to identify the challenges facing Xerox’s c-suite target market. They then collaborated with prominent thought leaders who analysed the data and created tangible advice. This was turned into an interactive platform.

They also produced five feature articles that further discussed the insights from the data, as well as a book that could be downloaded or ordered online as a physical copy.

The project garnered significant media attention in other B2B publications – most notably, HubSpot named it one of the 7 Best Native Campaigns of the year, and Outbrain ranked it second in their list of Best Native Ads.

Wall Street Journal x Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card: Inside the Moment

The Wall Street Journal created a platform that uses 360-degree imaging to allow users to virtually discover Miami, New Orleans and San Francisco.

As users explore, they find points of interest and are taken inside historical sites and local finds, all of which accept the Ritz-Carlton rewards card.

The program is part of a long-term rebranding strategy to distance the Ritz-Carlton from the stuffy world of five-star hotels and establish it as a medium through which locals and tourists can discover cities. The VR experience includes tours of Ritz Carlton hotels and restaurants, all of which have been updated to appeal to millennial customers.

The user-friendly nature of the platform has been praised, as has its creative use of VR, further establishing the Ritz-Carlton brand as modern and innovative.

New York Times and TNT: Via an Island of Hope, a New Home

The New York Times collaborated with AirBnB to promote the latter’s ‘Night At’ campaign, which allowed chosen guests to stay at iconic locations around the world.

One of the locations was New York’s iconic Ellis Island. AirBnB selected Robin and Courtney Messer, the daughter and granddaughter of a couple who arrived at the famed entry port in the 1920s, and allowed them to see their family history first hand.

The piece tells the story of Robin and Courtney’s family, and explores the history of Ellis Island more broadly, as well as the experiences of migrants who passed through the port and settled in America.

Embracing the European migration that characterised Ellis Island, the interactive piece can be read in English, French, German or Italian, and it includes animation, video and photography. It also features archived New York Times articles that give readers a glimpse into New York at the pinnacle of Ellis Island migration.

The collaboration with the New York Times allowed AirBnB leverage the newspaper’s storied history to create a piece of interactive content about the history of Ellis Island, its symbol as a hub of multiculturalism and the concept of making your home anywhere, an idea that is central to AirBnB’s brand.

Newforma and Engineers Australia: Roundtables

Software company Newforma partnered with Australia’s largest engineering industry association, Engineers Australia, to assemble a series of thought leaders for a roundtable discussion about the future of construction in a data-driven world.

The thought provoking conversation was attended by 80 industry leaders invited by Newforma, and was also streamed online, allowing the event reach a broad and engaged audience.

In the months following the event, a seven-page article was produced for the Engineers Australia print magazine, create, which outlined some of the key takeaways from the event, as well as an infographic which broke down some of the statistics surrounding construction and data. Engineers Australia also produced six articles about the event.

The project allowed Engineers Australia to connect with a new audience and gave them a deeper understanding of the relationship between technology, data and construction.

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Pharmaceutical Society of Australia