Branded content, copywriting, and sponsored editorial projects that I've been involved with.
Amazon Prime's The Grand Tour
In fall of 2016 I was approached by Guardian Labs, the branded content division for The Guardian newspaper and its online presence, to help promote one of Amazon Prime’s newest shows, The Grand Tour. This was the sequel to the wildly popular BBC series Top Gear, starring Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond. Having grown up as a fan since time immemorial, I was not only enthusiastic but also well-suited to the project. Working with editors, I pitched and helped launch an interactive campaign: first, by developing a Tour Tracker map that followed each destination as the hosts made their way around the world, then, by writing recaps of each episode, and tracking statistics and explainers featured in the segments: total horsepower featured, number of cars destroyed, best British phrase.
This project emphasized creative writing and humor, as parallel to the ex-Top Gear trio’s own dry British wit. While fitting with The Guardian's editorial sensibilities, it also acknowledged how the world has evolved since Top Gear's mid-2000s heyday—especially relevant in the series' fossil-fuel-themed finale, which takes place in Dubai.
The result was considered by both Amazon and editors at The Guardian to be a success: 73% higher pageviews and 45% greater social interactions than projected, with 1.3 million impressions in the US.
The Genesis of Personal Discovery
This was a campaign with Hyundai’s new Genesis luxury division, which ran on Hearst’s online properties—including Road & Track, Car And Driver, Popular Mechanics, and Esquire. This campaign, The Genesis of Personal Discovery, covered 50 article ideas that I personally pitched, of which I researched and wrote 35. Topics included emerging transportation technology, luxury, lifestyle, and travel: I conducted background research on diverse topics ranging from the explanatory to the esoteric: the world’s first automatic chronograph wristwatch, where the wood in our luxury cars is sourced, how such modern technologies as Sport Mode, heads-up displays, and connected driving works, and finding out what possum pie was. (It's not made with possum.)
Along the way, I also conducted interviews with executives, assigned stories to project writers, sourced photos from Getty Images, press photos, and public domain sources, honed my CMS expertise, and held strict adherence to deadlines.
This project received over 200,000 unique hits over the course of three months, with over 3 minutes’ average time spent on each piece.
Road & Track:
Rolex, The Monterey Motorsports Reunion
As a watch nerd, I knew Rolex was a brand whose reputation preceded this project. In this case, it was an overview of racing history through the Sixties, Seventies, and Nineties at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, one of the most historic racetracks in North America, just in time for the 42nd annual Monterey Motorsports Reunion. For this project, it was the features coverage I was familiar with: I profiled influential racecar builder and ruffian underdog Max Balchowsky, the weirdness of a Saab 96, and Mazda's legendary 787B race car, the only Japanese carmaker to ever win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where I reached out to the Mazda North America public relations team to source valuable information and archival photos. All three cars were chosen because they had run on the famed track.
I also worked with a photographer who was onsite at multiple events in Monterey, California: namely the Quail Motorsports Gathering and the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. With a mix of reporting and lifestyle, this project reflected the luxury trappings of Monterey's famed Car Week while turning in content that fit Rolex's sponsorship.
I was approached by Studio@Gizmodo to explain European-style endurance racing to an American audience. The project was sponsored by Porsche, which was a natural fit: with 18 victories, most recently in 2016, Porsche has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans more than any other manufacturer. This project ran on Jalopnik and Deadspin.
It's one thing to understand the sport yourself, to embrace its history and prestige while reveling in its significance. But it's another to convey to an audience that might be more familiar with NASCAR just how intricate, grueling, and exciting it is to race for 24 hours straight. My challenge was to capture these emotions while avoiding overly technical or detailed references that might alienate curious readers. While the brand wasn't explicitly mentioned often, the pieces served as a gateway into the sport while forging the link between the advertiser and the content.
This project is ongoing. More to come.