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The 10 Best Branded Content Partnerships of 2017

By Published on .

Airbnb acts as a facilitator with a series featuring dads sharing stories and photos from family trips.
Airbnb acts as a facilitator with a series featuring dads sharing stories and photos from family trips. Credit: Ryan Flood

Branded content partnerships continue to grow in popularity, with advertisers allocating larger budgets towards the practice. This year, we saw an increased focus on inspirational content, which could be one of the factors that has led to an increase in audience attention. Here are the 10 best branded content partnerships of 2017.

1. Equalizing music: Vice + Smirnoff
When Vice's electronic music publication, Thump, crunched the numbers last year and revealed that women make up only 17% of the acts at major electronic music festivals, they partnered with Smirnoff to do something about it. By embarking on a joint mission to "double the women headliners in electronic music," they've created something even more impactful than the content itself -- purpose. Content that stands for something always stands out, especially with the 90% of millennials who would switch brands to one associated with a cause.

2. Chasing a moment: National Geographic + Tourism New Zealand
As with New Zealand, this campaign has it all: a celebrity, jaw-dropping views, and food, wine and festival guides for every season. Featuring actress and filmmaker Bryce Dallas Howard, the series of videos and articles take you across New Zealand and does an incredible job of showcasing everything the island nation has to offer.

3. The secret to your Discover Playlist? A "cyborg" approach: Vox + Spotify
This Spotify partnership helped launch Vox's new Explainer Studio, a branded video offering that applies Vox's signature deep dives to brand stories. Learning how Spotify's customized Discover Playlists are built is intriguing for anyone into music or technology, but it's the story of how an obscure 70's synth-funk artist helped shape that process that really captures your attention.

4. Project Five by Five: Sundance TV + Visit Seattle
Visit Seattle kicked off the new year by debuting five incredible short films with Sundance TV. Ali Daniels, Visit Seattle's VP of marketing, explains that the partnership was the result of challenging media partners to find more creative storytelling solutions. Daniels and her team understood that non-residents would bring a new perspective to the story of Seattle that they couldn't do as locals. As proof that you can move quickly without sacrificing quality, each of the videos were shot in a single day.

5. Inside the moment: The Wall Street Journal + Chase
AR promises to transport us to new places, without ever leaving our chairs. The Wall Street Journal Custom Studios and Chase's Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card have done just that, taking audiences on 360-degree tours of three cities and nine must-see neighborhoods. At The Science of Storytelling conference in Toronto, WSJ's Jordan Hyman and Fara Warner shared that the risk of the new approach paid off, generating over half a million page views with a bounce rate of only 7%.

6. Inspiration of Japan: Great Big Story + All Nippon Airways
This video series features ordinary individuals with incredible stories, reminding us all how storytelling is such a powerful way to showcase a brand. Each video offers up insight into what makes Japan a truly unique destination, focusing on the human aspect of every day life to engage and inspire us.

7. Family trips: Fatherly + Airbnb
As a father myself, this series featuring dads sharing stories and photos from their family trips resonates in a profound way. Taking travel from the hypothetical to the practical, with Airbnb acting as a facilitator of the family bond.

8. Photographer Sophie Gamand and pitbulls: The Dodo + Samsung
This short film about the photographer who snaps adorable shots of pitbulls in floral might be one of the most viewed videos on this list, racking up an incredible 12M views on Facebook alone. The brand integration is subtle at first, with Sophie snapping a few photos on a Samsung device, then is woven in again via an interactive gallery using Samsung's Gear VR device, before you finally realize that the entire video was created on a Samsung Galaxy S8.

9. The Adventurist: Men's Health + Fitbit
In this partnership, writer Clint Carter was put up to the task of mastering three extreme sports in only five days, while tracking his heart rate and steps with a Fitbit. The series includes articles, short films and a full print features in Men's Health magazine. Men's Health felt so strongly about the potential of the concept that they pitched the idea to Fitbit, not the other way around.

10. ".future": Gimlet Media + Microsoft
Coming off the success of branded podcasts for advertisers such as Tinder and eBay, Gimlet Creative launched ".future" with Microsoft this summer. The podcast explores new and future technologies, and examines how they're going to affect future generations. We're still in the early days of branded audio content, but this series demonstrates that good storytelling will always be heard.

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