Fearlessly Frank’s Unframing dinner: Unframing Content

Richard Wallace

We recently hosted the second Fearlessly Frank Unframing dinner, an event where we discuss the future of various industries over quality meat and wine from the inimitable Hill and Szrok.

Our speaker this time was John Beasley, CMO for Vero, who had some salient thoughts about content. Here are some of his wise words.


What’s wrong with the word “content?” Well, it means everything. Which is a problem, when as a species we tend to see things in our own terms. Writers see copy, musicians see notes, directors see film, accountants see numbers. Marketers see opportunity.

But opportunity invariably comes with the justification of measurement. And in the era of social media, this has been measured by likes, views and engagement.

These new measures have come to define success in the modern social media age. I have heard marketing directors brag about how “viral” their content was, content which was heavily invested in with media spend to ensure that the viral effect was guaranteed, not earned. But how can you buy “viral?” Isn’t that lying to ourselves?

But the fact that it is a catch all term is also what makes it so perfect and so levelling. It challenges the often grubbier end of the content ladder (marketing) to push onwards and upwards to greater heights, by aiming for the shinier end of the content ladder: art, culture and pure creativity. In content, we are essentially embracing a term which groups the Godfather trilogy, the Mona Lisa and the works of Bob Dylan along with Harry Potter, Call of Duty, and adverts featuring the Churchill dog.

I’m reminded of the story of Dunbar Hay – a London Gallery and design shop whose policy was to source designs direct from artists. For four years in the 1930s they achieved incredible success, until the war came along and their entire team were recruited to design camouflage, imitation 3D tanks and battleships to trick the enemy. They understood that it takes a certain mind to truly persevere in the pursuit of perfect execution, whatever the content type.

But for me there’s something else that great content has in common: the ability to connect. A connection to you, your beliefs, your community, your family, your experience, or your lifestyle is what make content great.

I have been fortunate enough to work at both Red Bull and Monster, both of whom have redefined the way brands understand their audience and reflect that in the content they create. Some saw content as video views, some saw it as image association, as ROI, as clever viral marketing, as youth marketing. They all missed the point.

The content we created was successful because it reflected a profound understanding of each specific community that it celebrated. We were creating something credible and pioneering within that community that would be as shared as it is celebrated. It was about credibility through scene progression.

But I guess that is the nature of content – two people will see the same thing in different ways: clever youth marketing on the one hand, or core, credible progression on the other. To an extent they are both right, but in reality, only one truly is.

It’s kind of like ‘likes’: do thousands of ‘likes’ mean your video is liked? Yes. Does it mean it connected with the right audience or community? Not necessarily.

What we hope to achieve with Vero is understanding community as the shared passions of passionate people – worth celebrating, respecting and supporting through great content.

Content created to celebrate the community (not to chase likes and generate interaction, which in turns delivers data and feeds an algorithm to serve ads…)

In summary, always persevere in the pursuit of perfection.

Never be content with content unless it connects with someone or something real.

You don’t need likes to know something is liked.

And there you have it. If you found this interesting why not check out one of our Unframing videos?