Textual & Visual Media

Revista de la Sociedad española de periodistica

Spanish journalistic society journal

Brand journalism in Spain. Profiling the brand journalist


5. Case studies: brand journalism in Spain

Brand journalism landed on European shores shortly after doing so on the American continent, and is now beginning to timidly appear in a handful of companies that opt for this new type of communication. For example, some Spanish or Spanish based companies have seen and understood the benefits of applying brand journalism in their business goals, and some are embarking down this new path, like the web sites —in digital magazine format- of BBVA, Telefónica, Red Bull, Idealista, Coca-Cola and Eroski.

Although we can situate the «boom» in brand journalism between the years 2011 and 2012 (Barciela, 2013 24th of February), in our country we can find an existing case, that of Eroski, with a date anterior to the ones cited. Eroski Consumer (http://www.consumer.es/) is an information product about consumption directed at employees and clients that began online in 1998 and also circulates a printed version. The most famous example of the aforementioned magazines is Coca-Cola Journey (https://www.cocacolaespana.es/), a digital magazine produced by Coca-Cola, but there are other equally as interesting: Red Bull and its monthly magazine The Red Bulletin (https://www.redbulletin. com/int/es), also in paper version, which addresses themes of culture, sports, entertainment and lifestyles; the real estate portal Idealitsa, with Idealista News (https://www.idealista.com/news/), which is a cybernetic space containing information content related to housing and economics, or Espacio Fundación Telefónica´s web (https://espacio.fundaciontelefonica.com/), that looks to share information about culture and new technologies. Lastly, we will highlight the case of BBVA, which in 2016 launched bbva.com (https://www.bbva.com/es/, whose goal is to inform from the Group´s global web about corporative reality and set forth its ideas about certain issues that affect its interests in multiple locations, allowing «the voice, purpose and communications of BBVA to reach its main interest groups without intermediaries» (BBVA, 2016 22nd of September). All these examples have a common denominator: they offer specialised content that is written and edited in journalistic format, to attract the attention of its target audience. We will now briefly describe the initiatives created by Coca- Cola, Eroski and BBVA, as examples of entities that apply brand journalism in our country.

5.1. Coca-Cola Journey

Coca-Cola Journey global (http://www.coca-colacompany.com/), the official site of Coca-Cola was first launched in the United States in November of 2012, although its history goes back several decades, since Journey was an internal magazine that the company published between 1987 and 1997 (Coca-Cola España, 2016 28th of October). Once the project was recovered, now online, the Spanish edition appeared in November of 2014. For this to occur, Estefanía Gil, Communication Project Manager at Coca-Cola Iberia, explains that it had to undergo a process of adaptation. From the primitive corporate website, a new one was created with a more visual and clearly informative format. In under five months, the already existingnews content was reconditioned into different journalistic genres and a team of journalists under the direction of the company´s External Communications
and Relations Department. Later work began on two different facets. On the one hand, «long-term» editing, that is to say the development of contents about themes such as sport, environment or culture planned for the long-term, as well as content about Coca-Cola itself. On the other hand, «short-term» more routine projects, about the activities and daily work of the company.
Broadly speaking, we can say that Journey is a magazine that tells stories about Coca-Cola directed at customers, fans, employees and the company´s other interest groups through a series of intentions:
Coca-Cola Journey is about getting the stories behind the Coca-Cola brand —our stories— to reach the people. We want you to discover everything about our more than 100 years of history, get to know our social and environmental initiatives, learn more about our marketing strategies and publicity campaigns and to be able to transmit the passion for what we do (Coca-Cola España, 2016 28th of October). With that being said, according to Gil the goal is for «Journey to be a kind of loudspeaker for all the activity at Coca-Cola and its contents are in line with the business and company goals».

We can quickly appreciate some of the aspects of the Coca-Cola Journey website, like its homepage and main menu (figure 1). The design is very visual and apart from the homepage button it also contains sections such as «Brands», «More than a drink», «Nutrition», «Coca-Cola» and «Blog» where this multinational publishes a wide range of information related to health and the environment and tells a series of stories about its different products, although with notable space for Coca-Cola itself. Through the numerous contents of Journey, Coca-Cola´s brand journalism delivers a series of benefits which in Estefanía Gil´s opinion allows them «to position themselves proactively and promote conversation around issues that are strategic in showing that, as their slogan says, Coca-Cola is muchmore than a drink».
As for professionalizing this activity, more specifically if we keep in mind a possible profile from brand journalism, in Coca-Cola´s case there are more than a dozen people that work on Journey, a third of which do so by producing content. It is a heterogeneous team made up of experts and professionals from various fields: journalism, publicity, marketing, web analytics, SEO, design, audiovisual, photography and computer graphics, among others, as well as specialists in branded content strategies.  

Figure 1. Cover of Coca-Cola Journey 3rd of April of 2017.


Source: https://www.cocacolaespana.es

By using and taking advantage of the techniques, formats, narratives and procedures of media, this human workforce succeeds in passing on Coca-Cola´s message to its users, attaching considerable importance to communication based on data. According to our interviewee, a professional or brand journalist should meet a series of requirements, based on specific functions about what the ideal brand journalism discipline should be: Applying new measuring and listening tools to compliment editorial work and optimise results. Incorporating engagement, recurrence, qualified traffic and other KPIs that define success nowadays in corporate communication as the media have
come to learn.
Finally, we wanted to know what the experience is like for the users as well as the challenges that the company has raised about its brand journalism project. In general, the users have come away with a better image of Coca-Cola and its different products and they feel part of an iconic brand that has followers from all over the world. We should not forget, for example, that during the first 6 months that Journey was published here in Spain, 2.106.470 pages were seen by 919.227 single users and reached thousands  of followers in social networks (314.000 fans in Facebook, 105.000 followers on Twitter and 27.000 subscribers to YouTube) (Coca-Cola España, 2015 14th of May). As to the next challenges, Journey is contemplating the path of innovation, seeking to become a more and more interactive publication and more accessible to the public, subject to more native contents and to perfecting its strategies.

Figure 2. Eroski Consumer homepage from 3rd of April of 2017.


Source: http://www.consumer.es

5.2. Eroski Consumer

The case of Eroski Consumer is different from Coca-Cola´s, although both began as corporate magazines which later diversified their format, this project having its origin in the Eroski Foundation. It is a cybernetic magazine which deals with topics such as nutrition, health and the environment among others. In keeping with the interview maintained with María Hoyos, assistant director of Eroski Consumer, this project «was born with the intention of offering 360 degree information, comprehensive information with the possibility of including it in the different reports that are published in social networks and in commentaries». Therefore, the aim is to inform the citizens, and to do this Eroski Consumer relies on the collaboration of and is supported by journalists, academics and experts from diverse fields of consumer interests, that explain issues at hand and their possible findings.
Eroski Consumer´s webpage presents different sections where a great many articles are published daily that contain useful information for its users: nutrition, health, food safety, infants, the environment, pets, solidarity, economy, technology, home improvement, education and web TV. In each of these sections there are different tabs with relevant areas where specialised journalistic and visual content can be found. On the homepage as well there are various added features, such as subscriptions to electronic newsletters, the option of reading the magazine in numerous languages, access to social networks or consulting past editions, for example. In keeping with Hoyos´information, the editorial team is made up of about 15 people, the majority of these professionals with university studies and most with degrees in Social Sciences and Communication Sciences, with varied specialisations, doctorates or master´s degree. The majority are journalists specialised in nutrition, although some are experts in the varied topics the web deals with, as well as designers, bloggers, programmers, etc.
Our interviewee´s opinion about a possible profile for the brand journalist is that their main characteristic «is working for a brand, working in creating content whose purpose is for the company´s brand to be perceived as positive». Another important aspect of the case study of Eroski Consumer is the participation and feedback from the users, which is satisfactory according to María Hoyos´comments, with about 200.000 visits a day and an average of 6 million visitors a month.
Finally, Eroski Consumer seeks to continue down the path of specialisation and content segmentation, especially when referring to well-being and sustainability, as well as fomenting participation in social networks, creating awareness and maintaining communication with their users.

5.3. Bbva.com

In the above lines we commented that bbva.com came into existence in 2016 in order to report on the different activities and corporate reflections from the BBVA Group. The person in charge of answering our question was Noemi Fernández Castro, from the BBVA Corporate Communication Department, who justifies —in a very changeable communicative environment— the introduction of this group into brand marketing.
A new scenario of opportunities and challenges is opening up here, where the disintermediation in terms of communication is well within the reach of brand names, where integrated content is unseating publicity and brand marketing is emerging as a key element for positioning contents. Informing and entertaining is no longer exclusive property of mass media communication.
The goals of bbva.com are to create prominent and practical contents which are interesting for their users from the point of view of informative satisfaction, to achieve greater visibility so that they are ideally positioned in online browsers and search engines and lastly, to begin the journey towards the process of disintermediation in corporate communication.

Figure 3. Homepage of bbva.com 5th of April, 2017.

Source: https://www.bbva.com/es

The BBVA webpage, in keeping with the corporate identity of the group, presents a very carefully crafted appearance which facilitates the reading and focuses the attention of the user. In the upper left hand corner we can find some highlighted sections intended for shareholders and investors, together with corporate information and some events and activities to bear in mind. On the other hand, on the upper right hand side, as well as offering a search option, we can access an initial homepage where the group offers relevant and detailed information about itself, divided into various sections: highlights, themes, social media, press, your interests, sponsorships, corporative information, other Group websites and BBVA financial information.
In spite of being a recently implemented project, the editorial team from bbbva. con is made up of over 80 people that are coordinated in ten countries, where they welcome journalists, experts in social networks, SEO and web analytics, as well as economists.
As to the characteristics that a brand journalist should have, our interviewee claims that «he should offer quality content that can be relevant for the users, especially in those where the company has an authoritative platform from which to voice their opinions». The contents also must be agile enough to allow «stakeholders » —BBVA´s groups of interest— ease of access.
In this first year of the project´s trajectory the results have been considerable, having multiplied by 25 the traffic of the old press room, publishing more than 3.000 of their own contents and obtaining more than 41.600 indexed URLs from the search engine Google.
Lastly, future challenges set out by this group lean towards growth and innovation. On the one hand, by creating interesting content that aspires to understandits public in-depth and at the same time strengthening its positioning on the internet and its capacity to anticipate constant changes in the communication world.

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