Exceptional content marketing is almost always rooted in exceptional storytelling. These campaigns are still tied to brands and products, but they succeed because they go beyond merely promotion—they truly engage their audiences emotionally.
Wall and Chain, a beautifully animated short-form video from released last month by Airbnb to mark the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, is a perfect example of this sort of elegant brand storytelling.
The piece tells the true story of a woman who brings her father, a former West German border guard, back to the city for the first time since it was reunited. The pair end up staying at an Airbnb apartment owned by a former East German guard, and the warm interaction between the two Cold War foes has a profound impact on both.
The video clearly comes from Airbnb, but it doesn’t feel like a commercial. The brand message is there, but it is conveyed via the powerful experience of real individuals.
“The discussion between the two men changed both their lives for the better,” Alex Beauchamp, Head of Global Content and Social Media, told Content Marketing All-Stars in a recent interview. “It is a great example of a very natural story that happened through Airbnb—and is one of thousands that happen every day. For us, stories of humanity and the way people connect—especially in a very disconnected, technological world—are really important to share.”
In addition to the short film, which was posted to YouTube and already has 5.7 million views, Airbnb created a this excellent behind-the-scenes video with details on the project:
Airbnb also built a lush separate website, Belong Anywhere, to compliment the videos:
With the website and background video, as with the initial film, the content comes first and the brand messaging second. The company smartly lets the experience of the two former guards shine because it is strong enough to stand on its own.
As Airbnb’s Beauchamp put it to us: “The best content naturally tells the story.”
Those, of course, are excellent words of wisdom for all of us content creators to keep in mind.