Description: This passage is mainly about natgeotv com activate. In this passage, Jill Cress, Chief Marketing Officer at National Geographic Partners, explains what it’s like to be a purpose-driven brand building stories through technology.
Hi Jill, it’s good to see you, I’m here with Jill Cress, the CMO of National Geographic, so can you tell us what national geographic network is? It’s a very exciting time for National Geographic partners, it’s a brand that has been delighting and wowing consumers for a hundred and twenty nine years, going back to the work that they did in the journal and in the magazine, which was launched 129 years ago.
It is really leaning into its belief in visual storytelling to change the world, it grows from there to create products that have brought the the brand values of science and exploration to save and further the world through products, such as trips can take you to where our explorers are out in the world.
I think it is a brand that means so much to consumers for such a long time, because it is showing us the world and everything in it long before the internet and Instagram, over time as it grows, a television channel is created so that we can become a visual storyteller through the video.
One and a half years ago, we entered into a joint venture with 21st Century Fox, so we created National Geographic partners which combined the television channel, which was always a joint venture with box, and every other working media assists to create a purpose-driven media company.
We operate within a virtuous cycle of doing good in the world through 27% of the proceeds of the partnership going back to find the work of the National Geographic Society which is the original National Geographic, so we have the work of explorers and storytellers very Coralie.
In our DNA, we are one of the original purpose-driven companies, the Society always exists to find the work of explorers and storytellers to change the world who focus on things, such as what’s happening today, and climate and conservation, and furthering through education.
So I would like to say that we’re a hundred and thirty-year-old startup, you’re working with this incredibly trusted and loved brand, but to bring new energy and life into this brand, and into home, it’s the Purpose Driven relationship that we have with our audiences.
You’re in an unusual situation, it seems that your brand National Geographic must have a very high awareness, it’s incredible, I mean it is one of it. What is it about 98%? Particularly here in the US but in many markets around the world, we reach an audience every month of over 750 million consumers around the world.
We have a few Instagram followers, we’ve got 81 fans followers on Instagram ,we’ve got over 140 million on Facebook, and through our television channel, through our cable relationships, we reach hundreds of millions of consumers around the world, so the opportunity is to tell that Purpose Driven narrative of the brand, and our belief that we exist to deepen people’s understanding of the world around them.
So they can understand their roles in it, that’s what we do in the brand that we’re trying to build, and we also do that through the products that we create, whether it’s the work or not, that’s done through the publishing of the magazine and the digital content, which definitely resonates with our audiences that you mentioned, which is the incredible work.
We’re going to to reinvent our television channel, invest in more premium storytelling of which you may have seen a ten-part episodic series on the life of Albert Einstein. I’m called genius, so it’s bringing the brand to life through storytelling with a purpose.
Last year, we did that. I think something that embodied the brand, we jumped at an opportunity to partner with Leonardo DiCaprio and Fisher Stevens on a project, which is called before the flood, we created a dock film with Leonardo, who went around the world to look at the impact of what was happening with climate change.
We ran that before the election, we did something that was unprecedented, and by commercial means, it seemed to be a bit crazy, we ran it commercial free and any in all digital platforms, including our channel, and ended up being the most-watched documentary of all time for National Geographic.
It’s this brand coming together with content and in product too, telling stories matters in the world, and it can make a difference. Earlier we were talking about branding in general, as a broader theme beyond national geographic, do you think the brands in the future or even today are going to have to be more what you’re calling Purpose Driven? and what does that mean? I mean it’s the value of being a Purpose Driven brand going up over time and what are the reasons of that.
I think it definitely is, I mean it’s funny, we are born as a Purpose Driven brand, and now we’re becoming a for-profit venture, where you see many other companies within the fortune 500 or fortune 100 who have always been for-profit companies, that are now creating foundations so that they can link what they do.
What the role is in the world is to be a brand that could be a force for good in the world, and I think they’re doing that, because it matters doing it, the other way is that we’re in a unique position. What does Purpose Driven mean to you? Does it mean you have a mission such as curing something or others?
I think it sounds so cheesy but to make the world a better place, so for us, they are around things such as conservation, and what’s happening with the climate change? I think for other brands, I have worked at MasterCard for a long time, and they have a big belief that they can let leverage their technology and what they do in the way of connecting buyers and sellers to bring more people into the formal financial economy.
Because there are lots of positive benefits that happen when you do that, so it matters and I think it’s around having an impact and brands and leaving a mark in the world, and we know consumers particular Millennials, they want to find purpose, they’re looking for what my role is in the world, what I am going to do to make this world a better place.
I think brands who are creating forums and opportunities for audiences to gather with like-minded people, or you know connect virtually with a tribe of people who have the same values and do that around. The sense of purpose is something that matters.
You do a lot in social channels and some interesting work, you have a snapchat discover channel, you have all those Instagram followers, you should reveal what your secret is, because I think the celebrities definitely have more followers than Kardashians and Justin Bieber, but what is that?
Because Instagram is a very visual stuff, National Geographic has over 80 million fans on Instagram, and I think you know it is a testament to our belief in the power of storytelling to change the world.
For National Geographic, our rock stars are our photographers people who are out in the world taking photographs to enhance the stories that we tell, and I think one of the reasons why we have such a passionate and engaged following on Instagram is that we turn the keys to our Instagram account over to our photographers who are out in the field, and post on our behalf.
Our photographers are a part of this community of explorers, they are the heart and soul of our brand, they are out helping people understand the world around them through the photos that they take, we trust them and empower them to bring our brand values and those stories to life through the photos that they take.
So at any given time, we have 8 to 10 photographers who are out in the world, and unassign menteurs who are posting photos, and it also allows us to do things at moments, with the Hurricanes, we have one of our photographers who is in Houston and able to bring their unique perspectives through photos to what is happening.
Do you do any advertising for your brand? That’s a great question, and for a long time, the brand marketing lives through the products that we are marketing, so we market the magazine and the value of the magazine, or we will market a television show, such as genius or star talk with Neil deGrasse Tyson.
We’re working on creating a big bold brand campaign to bring out our point of view and our purpose to life, because now we’re one company, and we have this ability to do more wholistic activation across social, across our travel products, through licensed products, through our content, whether it’s video or editorial or digital to bring our purpose LED point of view to life.
So stay tuned and you’ll be seeing a brand led campaign, we’re also working to ensure that our brand values start to come through some of our product marketing when we market a television show, such as genius, or a show that we have which is about to air in November which is long road home.
It’s a story about a military troop who go into Iraq would bring a brand activation of purpose into how we’re going to market that show, that sounds good, it’s a great brand to work at, I have to say the thing that I love most about working at National Geographic is the reaction that I get from people all over the world.
When I tell them that I work for National Geographic, you get such a positive reaction, it makes me want to work hard to make this brand more relevant for today’s consumer, so what does experience mean in your business? I think about experience in two ways, one is this big ambition that consumers have to have experiences and embrace them.
So we do that through the products that we create to take consumers out into the world through a National Geographic trip to get close to what’s happening in certain environments, and it enables experiences and accesses to be associated with those experiences.
So if we’re going to take you to the Galapagos, you should ensure that you have access in that experience to the foremost researchers, scientists, photographers who are down there, so that’s a very tangible experience, and we work hard to ensure that.
We deliver a differentiated hands-on experience, and we can extend that through the stories that we tell, and through the way that we bring the brand to life to get more consumers through, let’s say digital, so that’s one big area focus for us, it’s an experiential brand, and we lead that ambition by bringing our consumers closer to the work that our explorers are doing out in the world.
We also think of experience in the importance of seamless experience for the consumer, as we look at the suite of products and experiences that we bring to a consumer, how do we ensure that? We can start to know the consumers, so they could have a more seamless journey with our brand, which is organized around tribes.
We have a lot of aspiring photographers, and they’re a part of our community, so when they enter our ecosystem and our environment and want to engage with us as it relates to photography, how do we make sure that? We don’t have an one-and-done experience with them through digital, they might post a picture on one of our sites.
How do we not let that end? How do we understand what matters? What are the kinds of photographys? What are the the types of people that aspiring photographers would like to connect to? How does that translate into? How we bring them into our television channel by understanding? What does it matter to them?
So it’s about a big shift and investment in understanding of what the consumer journey is across our series of assets to make sure that experience is more seamless, and delights them every time. I’m sure you’ll do that, so thank you very much for joining me, thank you.