The term "content marketing" was coined in 1996 by John F. Oppedahl, just one year after Microsoft released its iconic video tutorial on how to use the eponymous Windows 95 operating system. The guide starred Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry of the hit television sitcom, Friends, seeing the duo interact with a series of wacky characters as they attempted to navigate the newly released software with the help of Gate’s "personal secretary."
In this video, every hallmark of the early Internet is alive in full force. A maintenance man named Boris explains what "plug and play" means, martial artist guru Jeff Lee explains right clicking, and a video game addict named Johnny Joystick even challenges Aniston to a game of pinball while Perry learns to address an "internet email" to a friend in a garage band.
While this video is often viewed as more instructional than advertorial, it can also be considered one of the earliest examples of successful content marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is, "a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience " and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action."
Thanks to the presence of the two sitcom television stars, Microsoft effectively captured the attention of their audience using a culturally relevant moment. Moreover, they used the opportunity to provide their audience with valuable information that would actually be of use.
Today, content marketing and e-commerce go hand-in-hand, but even before the age of the Internet, marketers and advertisers alike were innovating on new ways to tell their story, and GeistM is no different.