Content marketing — smarter, not more
by Herman Manson (@marklives) British Airway’s High Life magazine is well-known for its history (it’s been published for 43 years), content and quality production. Those same highly prized pages are also well-monetised by its publisher: content marketing firm Cedar Communications. Although the approach has become omnichannel, there’s definitely still kick in print media (such as when it’s free, you’re sitting in a confined space and you don’t want the person behind you reading all your private correspondence).
Beyond the print product, in-flight media today includes in-flight TV advertising, ads printed onto boarding passes, digital and social media offerings, and airline lounge promotions. Then there’s the retail part of the business (in-flight and online). Obviously, in-flight content marketing isn’t in Kansas anymore.
Helena Gavera, managing director at Cedar Communications SA, says parent company and the publisher of High Life, Cedar Communications UK, has managed to define every moment of the content journey for High Life readers, and the ability to monetise that content. It helps that they have access to a remarkable trove of flight industry data, which continues to allow it to generate relevant and compelling features. Solid content is definitely the basis for its success.
BA High Life landed in South Africa in 2012, when BA-operated Comair replaced its then in-flight read, Horizons. The contract was won by Cedar UK, which initially outsourced most of the publishing services to Media24-owned content marketer, New Media (Gavera would not be drawn on Cedar’s existing relationship with New Media even though it’s a matter of public record). The SA office of Cedar was launched in March 2013, with BA and Capitec as the founding clients. Today, clients include BA/Comair, Sterns, Shoprite Group, Direct Axis and Discovery.
The SA edition of High Life is a hybrid, using content from both the international edition and content commissioned in SA from local writers and photographers. Each edition is a collaboration between the SA and UK teams. Gavera says clients remain committed to print in SA as data costs still prove prohibitive to many South Africans. They also enjoy the tactile experience offered by print and appreciate brands with heritage.
How brands approach content
Another good example of how brands approach content comes from another Cedar SA client, jewellery retailer Sterns, which wanted greater visibility in the competitive bridal market. The resulting campaign — “12 rings, 12 designers, 12 dresses” — saw 12 fashion designers each design a wedding outfit around a ring from Sterns. The final dresses and jewellery were then showcased at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Johannesburg 2016. The campaign generated content for social media, live events, video, the website and print, as well as PR.
Quality content doesn’t really have a defined shelf life, according to Gavera. Cedar often repurposes content across its worldwide client base, as well as various media platforms. Globally, it delivers content in in 14 languages across a number of sectors, including fashion, finance, education, food, leisure, lifestyle, property, retail, technology and travel.
In terms of competing with ad agencies which have been aggressively been moving into the content space, Gavera says the overheads of said agencies remain loaded, whereas content agencies are used to keep costs lean (Cedar in SA has only eight permanent employees, with another four on contract and then a host of freelancers).
Passionate about print
Gavera is passionate about print both as platform and good journalism. She doesn’t believe media businesses solely focused on squeezing money out of content are sustainable; they quickly lose focus. Magazines still offer readers the opportunity to switch off and disengage from the multiple screens we are faced with all day long.
Anyway, she says, the world needs smarter content, not more content.
High Life covers featured in MagLove over the years
Herman Manson (@marklives) is the founder and editor of MarkLives.com.