This week on the Content is Your Business Podcast, Tracy Doyle, Creative Director, Fashion & Luxury for T Brand Studio at the New York Times, joins hosts Lisa Berger, Edward Hertzman and Dalia Strum in the MouthMedia Network Studios.
Telling brand stories with journalistic integrity
T Brand Studios: the New York Times Branded Content Studio, was founded about 3 years ago in New York and is now an international extension of the NY Times, with companies in London, Paris, Hong Kong, and soon, Singapore. Doyle defines the company as “the idea that in its truest essence, the NY Times is a document of life being lived, and therefore the natural extension of stylistic expression of T Brand Studios is a narrative. Above all, we are storytellers.”
Doyle explains that the integrity behind the journalistic aspect of the New York Times is what motivates all areas of the company, but that branded content is different from journalism, though the lines at other companies are becoming blurred. She notes that “media companies are starting content studios – and they’re coming in various forms.” T Brand maintains journalistic standards and stays away from what Doyle calls the “woman on a beach with a bottle of perfume” generic advertising to create stories behind each piece of content and campaign. This lures fashion and luxury clients to T Brand because they acknowledge the need to better target their audience, and know that the standards and experience of T Brand will create the different but necessary content in a timely manner with great quality.
Formal journalists are now transitioning to content creators, writers, and a staff of producers within T Brand Studios, and they are there to create revenue but also high-quality content. Doyle references the “agency of the future model” – a lot of different news companies are now laying off employees because they don’t have the skill sets needed to survive in today’s market.
How storytelling influences content
As a Creative Director, Doyle truly sees the art in content and noted the need for constant materials because instead of visual, in-person artwork and ads, content is “scrolled” and can easily be missed. This is why she says that her first instinct is not a print first campaign. She says as long as they know their demographics and target audience, T Brand can do the rest and tell the story in the best medium possible.
By telling a story and not flashing product in the consumer’s face, the content is received on an emotional level, inspiring a want and a need to have that lifestyle or that item. Rather than telling the audience why they should buy something, telling a story shows the customer why they need a given product and how it will fit into their lifestyle. One example Doyle gives is a recent video series for Tiffany & Co. No one was required to have on Tiffany jewelry and there was no product placement. The only branding was a Tiffany Blue paint splat at the end of each episode. The piece was forward thinking and very successful because it played on emotion.
The conversation then goes into a timeline of how content has evolved from 2005 to 2020, from loyalty strategy to marketing tactics and marketing strategy to the current model of content strategy.