Best Branded Content - The Khan Academy

Posted in Insights

September can mean a lot of things to many people, but for most it means one: back to school. It was with this thought in mind that we so quickly chose this month’s Best Branded Content. It was timely, which in the world of content that’s so quickly digested and sooner ignored if not made relevant, can mean a lot.

The Khan Academy is a non-profit that offers “a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.” In the company’s first mass-marketing campaign (way to set the bar), Khan introduced a TV spot that’s earned FINE’s top honors (and 1.9 million YouTube views) in three awesome ways.

Purpose: The purpose of most ads is the same: make money. You can [insert more ways to make us more known] here. But it is purpose, and a good one, that first makes content successful. Purpose shouldn’t be blatantly stated and then checked off the proverbial list. No, it should be expressed in its entirety—emphasis on expressed.

This particular content’s purpose was to educate about educational resources (ha) and to kickoff a campaign that gets people thinking differently. It spans beyond this one minute into a campaign page on the Khan site featuring the science behind the message—that intelligence isn’t fixed, but something to work toward. Persistence and willingness are the purpose of both the campaign and the company. Their values are right there in that message. Pretty impressive.

Audience: When we write, we’re writing for, or to, someone. At least, that’s the idea. If the audience is the general public, there’s a lot of room for error, and as is often the case, higher education is put on a pedestal that’s out of reach for many. Considering this notion, and Khan’s mission of inclusive learning, the audience for this campaign became a collective, unified group. Successfully achieved by using videos of events that we have literally all been through (learning to walk, talk, and write) the message instantly becomes something the audience relates to—something they understand. “Failing is just another word for growing,” the spot says. Who among us hasn’t failed? Once a question is asked, the audience is yours.

Style: Considering the mission of the organization revolves around offering free education resources and tools, you’d assume any commercial of theirs would focus on these key facts. And this one did. But rather than rambling off boring facts (tuition costs, education requirements for employment, etc.), Khan’s purpose was made clear through a creative approach: homemade-style videos of people struggling, of people trying, of people attempting and failing. Approach and style are determining factors in the world of content between success and utter failure. Taken in any other direction, this entire campaign may have been glazed over, but by deploying messaging that inspires *and *relates, your brand values are elevated.

“Knowing that you’ll get it, even when you haven’t, yet” is the perfect lead-in copy—an almost call to action. And finally, “You only have to know one thing: You can learn anything.” Your audience is left asking the question that marketing dreams are made of: how?

Now that’s some seriously awesome branded content.

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