Taking storytelling to new heights – CNN Digital editorial sponsorship highlights

Taking storytelling to new heights – CNN Digital editorial sponsorship highlights 

2018 was an exciting year for digital.  The industry and the way our audience consumes content seems to be changing daily.  They want more choice, more information, deeper, richer storytelling and all delivered to them whenever and wherever they choose. We love this. With every digital revolution we are learning more about our audience and building a deeper relationship between them and the CNN brand.  We are a part of their daily lives, they rely on our journalists for information and look to our producers for inspiration.  This is a responsibility that we take seriously and it requires us to know our audience on a personal level.  The bar is set high and we must constantly look for new ways to engage with our audience to ensure that they want and need to grow that relationship with CNN. 

The CNN digital audience spans every country, age, race and demographic.  They are millennials and they are business leaders. They are all different and unique and look to CNN for distinctive reasons. 

This extends to our storytelling.  Every story is unique.  Each sponsorship has different goals.  Each one needs to build from the ground up.  What is the story?  How can we tell that story in the most interesting way to provide an engaging experience for our audience and create meaningful impact for our partners?

This is a challenge that excites us as journalists, storytellers and creators. It allows us to use every tool in our toolbox to dream big and tell stories in ways that will surprise and inform our audience. 

Some of my favorite moments from 2018 highlight how varied our executions can be.  Our partnership with Alibaba on the series Daring to be Great, allowed us to combine the news and excitement of one of the largest sporting events of the year, the Winter Olympics, with in-depth profiles blending video, articles, beautiful images and illustrations. The rich story telling allowed our audience to dive deeper into the world of these athletes who have devoted their lives to striving for greatness at the games.

We flipped the model on its head for our partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, India and our Destination India series.  Our teams fell further in love with India as we told immersive stories from all over this beautiful country.  We knew the question was no longer IF our audience should visit India, but where to start?  We took a unique spin on normal travel planning by starting with the all-important question-  how do you pack? And we let our audience fall in love with India the way we have, encouraging them to pack those bags and go!

We aim to inspire but we also aim to inform and to help our audience.  We ask the big questions.  None may be as big as the question we asked with our partners at Bangkok Dusit Medical Service… how can we live longer, healthier and happier lives? Our health series, Live Longer tackled that very question.  Led by our expert voice, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, we scoured the earth looking to see how and where people were living the longest lives, and what we could learn from them.  And coming right in time for New Years, we will be launching a new interactive that will let our audience get personalized results on some things they can do to improve their chances of living a longer, healthier life.

But what we do best is video.  CNN has been a video company for 37 years.  In 2018, we took this to a new level.  We played with new page templates to surface our videos and stories in different ways, like our Best of Hong Kong series, with Hong Kong Tourism Board. We built the framework for a new model, allowing our audience to discover Hong Kong across multiple chapters and themes and explore this amazing city in a whole new way. 

We evoked feeling with Artisans Japan, our series with Japan Airlines.  The series showcased some of Japan’s most skilled and dedicated creators and we needed the look and feel of the video and page to match.  Our video around the art in sword making evoked the same care and tempo that the craftsman showed.

On the other side, we needed to show the energy and excitement that is circulating through South Korea.  Our series recently launched with Korean Airlines, With Me as Your Guide, allows Koreans to take our viewers through South Korea like never before. Everything about the videos, from the guides, to the speed, style and cinematography reflect the uniqueness of Korea. The series included a first of its kind social-only video with Korean Airlines woven into the title card.  And in a true multiplatform execution the series will culminate in a half hour TV special.  

This year was truly groundbreaking with what we were able to accomplish with our great partners from across APAC.  We have been able to build on these strong relationships to do some remarkable work and together provide something truly special for our audiences.  I can’t wait to take that to new heights in 2019. 

Thank you,

Rich Dool

Senior Director, Content Strategy
CNN Digital