UBS senior marketer on why its tie-up with Vanity Fair and Vice is a blueprint for successful content marketing

UBS

UBS may seem an unlikely bedfellow among Vice and Vanity Fair, but the wealth management firm has radically overhauled the way it’s thinking about content creation. One of its top marketers explained how it has honed the unique tri-partnership that will act as a blueprint for its future marketing.

Dubbed ‘Unlimited’, it is UBS’s chief marketing ploy to speak to a new crowd - ‘wealthy’ millennials and women.

The premise is relatively simple, UBS will ask a ‘Key Life Question’ and then work with publishers, experts in the field of the subject as well as celebrities, to create content aimed at answering – or at least provoking a discussion – on the topic.

“Clients are driven by a purpose greater than wealth, and we had very little in terms of content to initiate those conversations,” Thierry Campet, global head of marketing communication at UBS Wealth Management recently told The Drum.

“We want to be driven by content and the fundamental issues that our clients have to deal with every day – life’s real questions – because all of that connects to how they will eventually manage their wealth.”

UBS asked the first question - ‘Does Wealth Make Us Rich Anymore?’ – around 18 months ago and worked with Vice, trend forecaster Future Laboratories and international business and culture magazine Monocle as content partners. The ‘participants’ – as it has called them – included Lily Cole, Stephen Hawking, Jimmy Wales who worked on a more adhoc basis, starring in the videos and articles that Vice and Monocle set out to create.

The second phase of the campaign launched this week and asked “Is it a Matter of Time?,” with content then promising to look at what happens as life expectancy radically increases. “With multi-generations co-existing, passing on wealth takes a different perspective so it’s a huge pillar around wealth management, about preserving and passing on wealth in best way,” said Campet.

Once again, Stephen Hawking has been pulled in as a participant and he’ll be joined by the likes of Lewis Hamilton. UBS has also replaced Monocle as a content partner with Vanity Fair in the hopes of better reaching the female demographic.

“From a positioning perspective, UBS wants to be more relevant to younger generation and Vice is an opportunity [to do] that. We want to be seen as innovative and Future Lab is a partner for that. And as for understanding society and being a little more [in touch] with the women in the world of wealth management, we can be more relevant with Vanity Fair.”

An "original recipe"

This has been a new way of working for UBS - an"original recipe," Campet proclaimed - when it comes to content creation. In the past, UBS relied on thought pieces from its team of analysts, wealth managers and other financial experts. That content, while “close to the core” of UBS, did not take a broad enough view or engage the brand particularly well with the new audience it’s targeting.

It’s for this reason that Campet has pushed to form these publisher partnerships rather than invest in its own in-house content team, a far cheaper solution. He’s formed an editorial board made up of 20 people who meet on a monthly basis. That team includes the three people from Vice’s content marketing division, three from Vanity Fair’s editorial team, and three Future Laboratories as well as a couple of people from Publicis’ Poke and Vanity Fair’s parent company Conde Nast (who jointly handle the social strategy). The rest of the board is made up of UBS stakeholders.

Like any other editorial meeting, this group will decide what the content should be, how it will run, who should be involved, and where they will push it. For instance, if UBS wanted something on how we think about time in the future, it would turn to Future Labs to suggest the latest trends around that subject. Vice might then create a piece a short film using some of these insights and featuring a participant, like Stephen Hawking. Meanwhile, Vanity Fair could then interview the scientist for a feature around some of the same themes.

In addition, each player will create their own bank of content. For example, Vice has written a piece on 'The Millionaire Castaway Who Lives Off The Clock,' profiling a man who lives on Restoration Island while Stephen Hawking has created a video discussing how we can reconfigure the world to make the most of the time we have.

It’s not a new notion, but Campet said the key to all of this is that each content creator is given the autonomy to do what they believe will resonate most with each audience.

“I truly believe that content led marketing is crowdsourced and I have to leave the integrity to each of the content providers. If I put my UBS stamp on it then it would be cheaper for me to just get a writer in. But the reason I let them do it is because there is an integrity behind the way they [produce a story] and people want to read something that comes from Vice or Vanity Fair,” he explained.

“I know that many other banks are [doing content marketing] but they have one thing in common - everything is signed off by the bank. They might have contributors but their sites are heavily branded and they own all of the content. And even though we own all the content, it’s a collaboration.”

Whatever is produced by Vice, Future Labs and Vanity Fair will be collated on UBS’ Unlimited website. But each title will also publish it on their own platforms and social media channels using the signpost ‘Powered By UBS’, an admittedly discreet disclaimer but one which nonetheless ensures the bank’s presence is felt.

A pricing model built on good faith

The editorial strategy might seem simple enough, but the commercial model sitting underneath it hasn’t been as simple to devise. Campet declined to go into detail but explained that the collective is “based on good faith”.

“Since the beginning, I’ve not wanted a ‘signing the check’ relationship,” said Campet. “I must confess that – well, they told me and I trust them – that I got a lot more than what I paid for [for the first phase of the campaign]. It is so new for Future Labs, Vice and Vanity Fair, that they really want to make it work and because none of them have done it, they don’t have a pricing model to surround it. So, we all go on good faith.”

Unsurprisingly then, the metrics for how it measures success are similarly under construction. However, based on the first wave of activity UBS knows that it wants three things; time spent, shareability and that the cost-per-view is “appropriate”.

“If someone lands on a page where we know they need 20 minutes to read it but they only last a few seconds then it’s not enough. So, we’re weighting all the impressions,” he continued. “We’re also measuring the engagement with the content – so likes, shares, comments – and then because it’s a commercial venture, I want to link everything back to cost. So, for every lead I want a link to how much I had to invest to get it. It costs me more to produce a 15 minute video than an article so [all partners] know that they need to generate more or less traffic so the cost per view is appropriate.”

For now though, Campet is happy with the uptick in traffic to the Unlimited website and the reception to its newsletter, which has garnered some 5,000 subscribers in the past six months. He doesn't reveal whether this has bolstered business, but Campet stressed that the wider company is taking the programme "very seriously" and this has been reflected in the continued investment put into it.

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.