Sci-fi might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of branded podcasts, but it might just be the first thing you’ll listen to on your morning commute.
Branded podcasts are booming in popularity as more and more brands realize their benefits. Think about it this way – if a brand makes a commercial (yawn), that’s less than a minute of engagement. Also… super boring. But if a brand makes an entertaining season of top-notch storytelling, that’s hours of promotion that create a loyal community and engaged audience.
But let’s make one thing clear, not all branded podcasts are created equally. Beyond telling unique stories or interviewing compelling guests, some brands take their audio strategy to the next level, incorporating innovative genres, formats, and content.
Here are six branded podcasts that are setting a new standard for branded content:
You’ve heard of reality TV, but have you heard of reality podcasts? Casting Call innovates the game by introducing a form unlike any other: reality show. Think American Idol but for the non-fiction storytellers and audio interviewers. After narrowing down 5000 entries to six semi-finalists, a panel of judges selects three finalists to create a pilot. One winner gets to take their pilot to the next level, landing their own mini-series.
Hackable is a podcast by McAfee that illuminates the stealthy and sneaky ways hackers crack into technology. It’s unique and effective in its approach, channeling investigative journalism into compelling stories of hacks. The show is filled with suspense, dramatizing real-life scenarios and bringing hacks we may usually see on TV to the podcast medium.
The Message has been one of the most successful branded podcasts in the history of branded podcasts. The key to its success? A tasteful sci-fi story and quality writing. The story may feel totally unrelated to GE, but that’s the beauty of innovative branded podcasts; there is space to take risks and be creative. Whatever captures the audience’s attention will inevitably be successful for the brand. After all, with a compelling audio drama and interesting sound design, what more could you want!
We’ll let a Raising the Torch review describe this FRQNCY production, “Grab your earbuds for this one! The soundscapes are subtle enough to allow the historians’ narrative to shine but rich enough to transport the listener to another time and place. The episode length allows for the unpacking of a lot of fascinating content while still keeping the subject material perfectly digestible. It’s an exciting time for audio and I look forward to more rich storytelling like this making its way mainstream.”
Unlike the other podcasts on this list, 2 Minutes of Zen is unique in its short-form content. It’s literally two minutes long – which happens to be the recommended length for brushing your teeth! Zendium, a UK toothpaste brand, takes an innovative approach for their podcast by offering 2 minutes of mindfulness to accompany your teeth brushing. The amazing thing about this podcast is that anyone who brushes their teeth (so… everyone) can get into this content. Plus, everyone loves a quick wellness hack.
The Sauce has transformed a McDonald’s PR fiasco into a success story. In 2017, when McDonald’s underestimated the demand for their Szechuan sauce rerelease, the world threw a fit, leaving thousands of enraged customers sauceless and sad. In the three-episode series, The Sauce traces the mystery behind the miscalculation through an investigative form that mirrors the show “Serial.” The genius of this podcast is both in its compelling form and the creative use of a podcast to address a mistake.
Paige McCauley is FRQNCY Media’s digital marketing maven and resident musical wunderkind. Paige has a long history with the power of sound as an award-winning recording artist and songwriter, performing at venues like The Fox Theatre, House of Blues in West Hollywood, and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. She also has extensive experience in the music industry, interning for the Recording Academy and working with artists like Billie Eilish, Travis Scott, and Brandi Carlile during her time in college.