What is it about braving the wild that’s so alluring? The end of the 00’s brought about a wave of adventurers taking us through their brutal experiences on camera: charging through perilous seas to catch monstrous sea creatures, fashioning meals out of insects, spending weeks out in the wilderness as we watched, mouths agape, from the comfort of our homes.
These experiences present a powerful, no-holds-barred vision of nature and its extremes in close-up, and they captivate viewers. Nature documentary TV shows have flourished since their introduction.
Content in this vein is magnetic because it takes people out of the norm, interrupting the sleep-cycle that is the perfectly pristine. Parse through trending YouTube content and you might notice an alarming influx of videos featuring cliffhanging. Leo finally won his Oscar for portraying a frontiersman who’s mauled by a grizzly bear. When it comes to the nitty-gritty, the more it makes people laugh or cry, cringe or gasp, the better, and there’s a meaningful place for content marketing in this sphere as well.
But what about other brands searching to lay roots in a more natural identity?
Johnny Depp's Gonzo-esque jaunt through the desert under the Dior banner is gripping, grimy and a joy to watch. It's a far cry from run-of-the-mill, white-washed cologne ads, and that's really the content's strength. But the connection between fashion, frangrances, and the actor's spirit journey is a bit vague.
National Geographic, a channel partly owned by Fox Networks Group, shook off the cliché of luxury skin product ads with SK-II: Face the Wild. Gone are the days of water blasting into pores or celebrity endorsements. Instead of touting perfection, the focus is on coldness, dryness, pollution, and UV — the nitty-gritty — and the women daring enough to strike out into the brush and face it.
What’s worth pointing out in this case is the partnership. Much like the content itself, the represented brands have to be rugged, real and genuine in their message. If SK-II had branded the content entirely under their own name, without Nat Geo's support, the relationship with nature wouldn’t be innate.
At the same time, while Nat Geo might not be the first marketer that comes to mind when considering eye creams or facial cleansing oils, their approach gives these products a raw, undomesticated essence.
The success of a lot of content that dives into the wild just comes down to great videography skills. Video teams responsible for stalking snow leopards for weeks at a time, or getting up close with 5-metre anacondas, look at an ad spot featuring fearless models and think, 'Our subjects won't eat us live? Easy, let's do this thing'.
When trying to flip the script of a brand’s identity and ‘get dirty,’ it’s helpful to jump into the mud with someone that’s been there before.
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