(Another) great example of content format from the New York Times

The New York Times has been consistent in publishing great pieces of interactive content. They’ve raised the bar again with this story on the New-York subway map.

The New York Times is a media institution. An icon.

We know them from their thorough reporting but also, more recently, in how they have been able to work with interactive content formats in new ways.

This time, they are telling us the story of the New York subway map in a very versatile format: the story format.

From Snapchat, to Instagram and Facebook, the story format is making ways and becoming a very intuitive way of telling a story in short bursts, or frames.

By using this approach for this story, the New York Times’ team is demonstrating how great reporting, how great content, can live in a format that allows pretty much anyone that has interest in it to dive into it, but still remain in control of their experience.

You will also notice, by experimenting on mobile or desktop, that at pretty much any point in the story, one could decide to stop watching but still have the feeling of having had a complete content experience.

This is persona empathy at its best.

Some people will want to have a longer experience, but others will just want to skim the surface, the beginning of the story but still have had a fulfilling experience.

Why not spend a couple minutes to read and watch this story, and this experience, and ask yourself: are there content topics, pillars or themes that your brand could treat in such a way that it could be relevant for multiple types of personas or readers at once?

To explore possible interactive formats for your brand, contact an expert at Toast and schedule a consultation with our experts today.

Dads: a branded documentary by Dove

Brand films that tackle the true values of a brand can make a real impact.

We’ve talked about it here in the past, brand documentaries can be a really interesting and valuable investment for a brand.

More often than not, a documentary project can be leveraged over a very long period of time and if properly produced and planned, can be almost evergreen.

At the 2019 edition of the Toronto Film Festival, Dove premiered “Dads”, a documentary that focuses on what fatherhood means to dads across the globe, including celebrity fathers like Will Smith and Conan O’Brien.

This initiative is part of Dove Men+Care’s campaign advocating for paternity leave.

In an article published by Strategy, Leslie Golts, senior global marketing manager for Dove Men+Care, mentions that for almost 10 years the brand has been reaching out to men to define how care is an important aspect of “being a man”.

Bryce Dallas Howard directed the film, daughter of Ron Howard, who co-produced the film along with Dove.


Would you like to discuss your potential brand documentary? Let us know and schedule a consultation with our experts at Toast today.

Video strategy: looking at Hearst

Hearst Originals goes all-in on video production.


Hearst Magazines is an international media entity with publications such as Cosmopolitan, Country Living, Esquire, but also printed editions of brands such as Airbnb (which we discussed in a previous article).


In early 2019, Hearst, through its Hearst Originals division, acquired the YouTube Clevver network and a production studio in Los Angeles that belonged to Defy Media (a company we had also discussed in a previous article).


These initiatives follow two key hires aimed at increasing revenues and opportunities from the media group’s video production and distribution activities.


The audiences that the group has developed on YouTube, other networks such as Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook as well as their own platforms are generating more and more interest from advertisers.


In an article published by Digiday, Tim Peterson details the approach and opportunities that are at the heart of Hearst’s video strategy, with several productions currently under development, networks such as Clevver and Delish (in addition to their properties associated with international magazines) and the development of content with high advertising revenue potential.


This article provides a better understanding of the structure that companies like Hearst use to reach and satisfy their audiences, while keeping in mind the ROI and revenue generation dimension.


What do you think of your video strategy? What is your level of satisfaction of it? Let us know and schedule a consultation with our experts at Toast today.

Procter & Gamble: less ads, more content

P&G is doing less and less traditional advertising, in favour of content.


P&G is doing less and less traditional advertising, in favour of content.


“We are here to reinvent advertising,” says Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at Procter & Gamble, noting that 70% of people don’t like advertising.


In recent years, the multinational has multiplied its content initiatives from different angles.


Its teams are currently working with Ariana Huffington’s Thrive Global, a company that aims to influence consumer behaviour towards positive, mindful and sustainable approaches.


On June 26, 2019, the company will have launched its new documentary “The Look“, a sequel to last year’s highly successful “The Talk”, a documentary highlighting issues of racial bias in the United States. An example of an initiative that really works on influencing the positioning of P&G brands rather than talking about product specifications and benefits.



An article published in Advertising Age by Jack Neff provides more details on P&G’s approach in this context of changing formats and the new reality of content. Where P&G was hesitant a few years ago, this year marks an important turning point where content marketing is at the heart of all the group’s major initiatives.


If you want to develop a content strategy for your brand, contact us and schedule a free consultation with our experts at Toast today.

Examples of Content and E-commerce


It’s hard to avoid it, we like to see things in action. We like to see what others are doing.

Theory is good, practice is often better.

Brands with a strong focus on e-commerce, or that are even entirely online, need to build a strategy that not only heavily integrate conversion optimization tactics, but most also integrate a whole content marketing component to create, build and maintain relationships with consumers and future customers by providing them with value and utility.

In an article published by Search Engine Journal, Joseph Robison presents 7 examples of e-commerce sites making good use of content in their marketing approach.

Angie’s List, Proflowers, Venngage, Beardbrand, Bespoke Post, Boll & Branch and Northern Brewer are analyzed according to certain content pieces that are particularly effective on each of these different sites.

These 7 examples illustrate the complementarity of a content strategy in a business context focused on transaction and conversion. Something to consider in developing your new initiatives for the coming year.

If you want to develop a content strategy for your brand, contact us and schedule a free consultation with our experts at Toast today.

Video Strategy: A&W + Beyond Meat

A combination of affinity audiences and video sequencing allowed A&W to find its audience.

In Canada, the launch of the Beyond Meat vegetable patty has made a big splash and continues to attract customers to A&W.

The introduction of this product in its restaurants has positioned A&W in the market as a fast-food chain that truly cares about the environment and the food preferences of its customers.

With this positioning in mind, the chain’s marketing team launched its video campaign, in particular on YouTube.

In an article in Think With Google, we discover the approach at the message level, but also part of their YouTube video strategy.

Audience targeting focused on two main vectors:

  1. Green-living enthusiasts
  2. Fast-food lovers

These 2 affinity audiences were targeted by tailored messages (A&W had placed its food truck and offered samples in different environmental festivals, and also in festivals more suitable for fast food), then retargeted by a shorter (6 seconds), more direct message, inviting people to visit a restaurant.

The article and accompanying video provide some additional details on the A&W Canada marketing team’s approach and strategy, but what we can learn from it is how they were able to create messages and creative solutions tailored to the targeted audience, without overspending on production. It is the targeting and insights of the target audience that are at the heart of the success of such a campaign.

If you want to explore the potential of your audience and the video strategy that your brand could have, contact us and schedule a free consultation with our experts at Toast today.

Best practice: Mailchimp’s content style guide

Since 2015, Mailchimp has made its content style guide available online, becoming an inspiration for many.

Do you use Mailchimp? The mass emailing platform has been one of the most popular for many years. Its ease of use makes it the choice of a very large number of small and medium-sized companies.

If you have already experienced the platform, you may have noticed that it has a personality. Through its interface, its emails, its help documents, Mailchimp has a tone of its own, a way of speaking that is unique to it.

This tone and voice are documented in a style guide that is fully available online, publicly, under a Creative Commons license.

Robert Mills of GatherContent spoke with Erin Crews of Mailchimp about their style guide, its structure, its use, etc.

The article goes in-depth on what makes a style guide like this one an essential tool throughout the organization, not just for writers and the marketing team.

As Erin mentions, the guide is widely used by “non-content” teams, such as designers and developers, who can make sure that their work stays true to the brand.

Obviously, at Toast, we believe that every brand should have a style guide. It does not have to be as comprehensive and massive as Mailchimp’s, but any foundation for alignment and growth is an excellent start because:

  1. Your style guide must make sure that your content always has the same voice, the same tone.
  2. Your style guide must also allow you to eventually increase the rate of content production, to ensure that as your organization grows, your content remains faithful to your brand.

You would like to develop a style guide for your brand? Simply contact us and we can discuss this together.

How National Geographic reached 100 million followers on Instagram

The brand gives credit to its 130+ photographers, to whom it has given full control of its Instagram account.

Have you ever heard of a “takeover” of a brand’s social network account? It is a practice where a brand gives control of one or more of its accounts for a day, a week or even a month to a well-known individual, an influencer or even another brand.

The idea is that this new person will give a different vibe to the account during this period because of the content they will be posting and thus will not only attract a new audience to the brand, but also create renewed engagement from its existing audience.

But how about giving control of your Instagram account to more than 100 highly creative brains at the same time?

This is what National Geographic has been doing with its @natgeo account for a long time, giving control to its photographers, allowing them to publish directly on the platform.

The advantage is there for photographers, as Aaron Huey, who has been contributing to the account since 2012, says:

“You can spend a year and a half publishing eight, ten or twelve photos, but during the same period on Instagram, you can tell 30, 40 or 50 stories.”

And this approach not only highlights National Geographic’s photographers, it also generates revenue given the size of the audience.

The photo you see at the top of this article is from a collaboration with Samsung where the captions accompanying the photos mentioned the fact that they were taken with a Samsung mobile device, while retaining the importance of the story being told.

This is what made the @natgeo account the first account of a brand to reach 100M followers on Instagram.

This article published in AdWeek gives a lot of details on the brand’s approach and thinking in this context, an excellent example from which your brand could perhaps be inspired? (you will notice that you must be registered with AdWeek to view it, but it’s free, don’t worry!)



View this post on Instagram


Photo by @katieorlinsky // Captured #withGalaxy S9+, produced with @samsungmobileusa using Pro Mode ISO 50 at 1/2449th f 2.4 // Flying through the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes in Katmai National Park, Alaska. Along with a group of scientists and park rangers led by archeologist Laura Stelson, we followed in the footsteps of botanist Robert F. Griggs who led multiple National Geographic Society expeditions in the early twentieth century to explore the region and study the aftermath of the 1912 Katmai Volcanic eruption. The Nova Rupta volcano displaced the area’s mainly Alutiiq indigenous population, filling their surroundings with ash flow we can still see today. Meanwhile the eruption decimated massive swaths of land, including what Griggs named the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, ”The whole valley as far as the eye could reach was full of hundreds, no thousands—literally, tens of thousands—of smokes curling up from its fissured floor,” he described. After nearly two weeks hiking hundreds of miles, climbing up mountains, wading through rivers and sleeping uncomfortably close to Grizzly bears, we finally reached the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.

A post shared by National Geographic (@natgeo) on



If you would like to explore the Instagram potential of your brand a little more, contact us and let us know about your current projects and we could help you in your efforts to implement a new dimension to your content strategy.

Fortnite + Marshmello

The latest examples of branded content take the model even further.

In your circle of family and friends, you probably know some Fortnite players. This phenomenon of massive online multiplayer gaming is not about to end!

Epic Games, the company behind this success, aims to transform what is currently a game as we know it, into a communication platform, a huge social network. Fortnite is currently the main means of communication for many young people.

For the older ones in the room, Epic Games seem to be working on recreating Second Life, which could very well work this time, without really wanting to do so initially.

The Fortnite brand recently created content for its player base, content that attracted more than 10 million players at the same time for the event.

10. Million. Players.

How did they do it? They invited, in the game environment, a very, very popular EDM (Electronic Dance Music) artist these days: Marshmello.

If only you knew how this excited my 8-and-11-year-old boys…. (However, we could discuss the dimension of advertising to children in another article.)

The artist did a ten-minute concert, live, which is now also (obviously) possible to watch on YouTube. At the time of writing this, the entire concert had accumulated more than 27M views on YouTube alone.



This is an excellent example of a brand that knows its audience very well and uses an influencer as a lever for co-creating content that will enhance it and demonstrate its ability to “connect” with its consumers.

All this in a game where dance is a key attribute of the online experience. So who is the best floss dancer among you? Yes, floss comes from Fortnite.

This example is taken from a very interesting article by David Bloom on Tubefilter that summarizes a recent panel on brand content that took place as part of Digital Entertainment World 2019.

Bloom goes into a little more detail about this Fortnite+Marshmello example, but also describes several recent examples from Microsoft, Fandango, Dollar Shave Club and some others.

So how could you use your own brand as a content lever for your audience?

If you would like to explore the content potential of your brand a little more, contact us and let us know about your current projects and we could assist you in your efforts to implement a new dimension to your content strategy.

The importance of content marketing ROI for Marriott

A few years ago, Marriott published a lot of content, but had no central hub for a global and measured strategy. Not anymore.

I have often mentioned Marriott in my articles over the past couple years. Their content strategy and the resources they have put in place are indeed excellent and give them particularly clear visibility on the impact they have on sales.

The article I will be referring to supports this, again.

Published by Contently, an infographic highlights the structure put in place and the importance given to the link between the engagement with the content and the rooms that will later be booked.

(Ultimately, you will notice that the article acts as a promotion for Contently’s platform, but there is still some interesting content in there)

When the Marriott Group went from 4 print publications to 8 online editorial hubs some years ago, combined with newsletters and social channels, they definitely made a shift that allowed them to measure the real impact that content can have in the tourism sector.