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AE Marketing Group’s CEO on Documentary Storytelling for Brands

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Brian Walker AE Marketing Group’s CEO on the Brand Lab Series™ Ep 33

For all the industry chatter about “being authentic”, few brands use documentary storytelling to actually be real.  Natalie interviews AE Marketing Group CEO Brian Walker about their latest documentary storytelling campaign for Network Health.

For nineteen days, AE Marketing Group followed Network Health employees with cameras.  However, unlike traditional employee-focused marketing, this was not about the company.  Rather, Brian wanted to document who these people are outside of the office.

Co-Creation Roots

Brian’s idea for shooting documentary style began as a result of facilitating CoCreation Lab Series™ workshops in 2014 and 2015 for Network Health.  “We helped the company work side-by-side with customers and non-customers to design new health insurance products, services, and experiences together.”

Therefore, a pattern began to emerge – employees and customers had a lot more in common than all sides realized.

“Most people generally dislike health insurance companies, myself included,” said Walker. “But I wanted to change that mindset. The same way co-creation lifted the curtain on product and service design, what if we could lift the curtain on who the employees are?”

Humanizing Health Insurance Through Documentary Storytelling

A lot of healthcare marketing looks the same. Blue and white logo. Smiling old people. Babies. Doctors. Machines.  Nothing differentiating let alone authentic about that approach.

“I was confident documentary storytelling of employees was the right idea. Everyone talks about humanizing a brand, everyone talks about employee advocacy, but they forget you cannot force it.” Walker added, “Employees, like consumers, don’t want to be told how to behave.”

AE Marketing Group was adamant that nothing was scripted. “Therefore, I had such respect for Network Health’s leadership team, especially Penny Ransom and Melanie Draheim to let their employees be vulnerable and talk about their lives, not health insurance.”

As a result, AE Marketing Group and its production team followed employees going about their lives.  Natalie and Brian discuss casting, cameras, fears and yes, even tears.

“You will see the raw emotions and vulnerability demonstrated by their employees,” said Walker.  “And, that’s what’s being authentic is all about.”

Content Marketing Strategy

In conclusion, Natalie asked Brian about how the team curated and distributed all the content. “Hundreds of thousands of people are engaging with these stories on social, digital and traditional media. Most of all, people are not talking about health insurance, (which is why there is never a call to action in videos) rather they’re building communities.

Watch a sample of the documentary storytelling videos here .

Listen to other episodes of the Brand Lab Series™ Podcast here.

Finally, thanks for listening and please share any questions or feedback in comments.

Tags: Healthcare, Brand and Marketing, Employee Advocacy

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