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You may have heard it before, but it is true – 2020 really was a transformational year in Content Marketing. The pandemic upended the lives of nearly all of us when it forced us to stay home and created a nation of stressed-out consumers with more free time than ever. Content marketers saw the opportunity to reach this newly captive audience and the astute ones responded by pivoting in their tone and messaging. For an audience that was starving for distraction, consolation and information, content creators were placed in the driver’s seat and those that brought their A game gave us exceptional moments. 

WHAT WAS DIFFERENT IN 2020

The pandemic changed us.  Most consumers were not necessarily drawn to the same content consumed before. With so many of us facing loss of jobs and income, adjusting to life working from home, facing illness and death in our families and communities, we sought content that provided value to us. That value could be in the form of laughter, education, inspiration, or consolation. What we were not interested in were blatant asks or in-your-face promotions, a fact even luxury brands had to accept with their consumers now working from home in sweatpants and a tee shirt. 

THE BEST 7 CONTENT MARKETING MOMENTS OF 2020

1. Content that Made Us Smile

Nabisco built an Oreo vault in Norway to protect the Oreo recipe in case an asteroid hit. What else do you need to know to understand how much this tickled our collective fancy? Adweek named it the best ad stunt of 2020 and we agree. In a year that was not 2020, news of an asteroid possibly hitting earth would have been frightening, but in 2020 we had more dire situations to worry about.

2. Content that Made Us Feel Like We Were All in This Together 

Life has been scary, and without our jobs and social engagements we cannot easily commiserate with our friends and family, an activity that would normally calm us down a bit. Brands stepped in to let us know we would be ok. And we appreciated it. One of the best examples came from Nike with the You Can’t Stop Us ad. With its soothing words and message of hope, this ad made us believe we will get through this, and we will do it together.

3. Content that Made us Laugh out Loud

In a year where there was very little to laugh about, content that did make us laugh was prized by consumers. Dating site Match.com was cracked us up with its ad Match Made in Hell featuring Satan desperately searching for his perfect match and finally finding her in a beautiful and compatible woman named…2020.  And Apple  caused us giggle fits when it created an ad poking fun at our at-home lives, complete with its zoom-filled craziness. With startling accuracy, we saw the humor of our lives and we laughed hard, then got back to work on our Macs. 

4.  Content that Helped Us in an Important Way

We needed direction and leadership in 2020. With frightening news coming out daily, supermarket shelves being emptied of essential items, and communities needing food and supplies, smart brands heard the call and responded with a calm voice of reason.  Two of the best came from Cottonelle, who created a simple 30 second piece telling us not to stockpile toilet paper and Facebook, who made its community help feature available for COVID-19 efforts.

5.  Content that Made Us Want to Change the World

2020 was a year filled with strife, political division, violence, death, and injustice. This was also the year brands took a central role in shaping consumers mindsets and creating social change. Content that was focused on truth and information, and not on products, stood out from the pack.  Procter and Gamble created a game-changing ad depicting mothers talking to their young children about the dangers of being black. The Lincoln Project launched a political ground zero approach in its Anti-Trump campaign and when the pandemic hit, incorporated this into their ads.  And women and girls, an often overlooked focus  were featured in compelling ads like this one  from Apple. Apple International Women’s Day.

6. Content that Told a Story and Made Us Cry

Stories became necessary in 2020 as people hungered to escape their daily stresses and immerse themselves in rich stories about someone else.  One of the very best examples came from Disneyland Paris which tugged at our heartstrings with “The Little Duck”. Nature, cute animals, and a touching story.  We needed that.

7.  Content We Read

As we noted, telling stories was more important than ever and often these stories came from blogs. Blogging was always a strong force in content marketing and 2020 was no exception. (and there is no sign of that slowing down in 2021)  Our favorite blogs contained beautiful photos to accompany the stories and were often immersive, multi part pieces.  Our favorites of 2020 were the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s blog, and A Cup of Jo which regularly soothed us.

As 2020 comes to an end, it is important to take a minute to think about the best moments of 2020, and in Content Marketing, there were many.  The world changed, and content creators adapted by changing their message and tone. Astute marketers realized this was no time to think about pure profits, and instead they focused on providing value, comfort and information to consumers.  Consumers responded by devouring the content that made them laugh, cry, think, and feel empowered. And these were the best moments in Content Marketing in 2020.

Iris Writing International is passionate about helping brands find their creative voice.  As a full-service content agency, they work with brands to produce effective and persuasive copy.