Building a content marketing platform has a number of advantages. It links people to your brand. But more than that, it gives you a media space you control and where you can run messages as you see fit.
Arguably, Starbucks founder Howard Schultz did just that when he published a letter on the company’s news pages. In it he slammed President Trump for his recent ban on Muslims entering the US.
Ostensibly, the letter was directed at the company’s staff. In reality, it went much further and was looking towards its customer base and beyond.
Putting aside the rights and wrongs of what Trump has done, from a contemporary marketing point of view Schultz’s move is an interesting one. It raises the question of when might be the right time to look beyond the product and use your content marketing platform for other purposes.
Starbucks is not the only company to have reacted in this way. Nike is one of many others to take a similar viewpoint to Starbucks.
But there is a key difference. Nike chief executive Mark Parker chose to make his comments via a staff email. By publishing on its own news site, Starbucks’ message carried far more weight.
There are other examples. One of the best known in the UK occurred when a number of brands used their content marketing to espouse an opinion on the EU referendum. These included pub chain Wetherspoon’s, whose magazine was a platform for the pro-leave viewpoint of its founder Tim Martin.
Such situations do not arise very often. But this could herald a change in how companies view their content marketing platforms. Suddenly it is not just about the product; instead it can be used to make a statement about the brand’s philosophy and opinion. It has nothing to do with how people purchase. But is it a good thing?
At the very least Schultz’s email makes interesting reading.