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Can native advertising work for a government body?

Dec 13, 2022

In March 2020, the world shut down when the coronavirus hit.

It was a hectic and confusing time that left the public clamouring for reliable information from trusted sources.

In Norway, the call centre of the Norwegian Directorate of Health was flooded by people seeking guidance. In partnership with Schibsted Partnerstudio, the Directorate set up a live studio on Norway’s largest online news site, VG, where people could ask their questions in real-time.

In a matter of days, over 15,000 questions were received and answered. The most frequently asked questions were used as the basis for native advertising articles that could calm down the phone lines and give the people the information they needed.

The coronavirus live studio is just one of many examples of the Norwegian Directorate of Health using native advertising to communicate with the public, Henriette Skådinn, Client Lead in the media agency Mindshare, explains.

“As a government, you have to talk to the entire public and Schibsted has some of the largest online newspapers in Norway. They actually reach a large percentage of the public. We wanted to work with Shibsted and Schibsted Partnerstudio to help us create stories and make them come to life,” she says.

Native advertising is a key component

The Norwegian Directorate of Health sees its public communication as a way to help people lead better lives through better health.

The Directorate uses native advertising as a key component in its communication strategy because it enables it to increase public knowledge by expanding on a topic through content that people actually want to spend time reading, viewing or listening to.

“Our KPIs are quite different from any commercial company,” Skådinn says. “It’s really about inspiring and influencing the public, whether it’s about nutrition, alcohol or fitness. We have been telling these stories for a while and our post-campaign tests show that native advertising does an important job in creating knowledge.”

Mikaela Folkestad, CEO at Schibsted Partnerstudio, believes that native advertising is a tool more governments should utilise. But the official messaging needs to be relatable, not preachy. That’s why Schibsted Partnerstudio always uses real people and real stories in its campaigns for the Norwegian Directorate of Health.

“We’re using these cases and these stories to inspire and influence. To really dig into a topic and create long-form content really allows us to tell stories in a completely different way,” Folkestad says.

It takes a bit of courage

The collaboration between the Norwegian Directorate of Health and Schibsted Partnerstudio has been and continues to be very successful. This is amongst other things a result of creating a safe environment, not only for the audience but for all those involved from the writer to the video producer to the digital advisor, Folkestad says.

“For a lot of our customers, we have to sell and convert and we have to talk a lot about products in an engaging, storytelling way,” she says. “I think it’s fun to work with governments because you are talking about messages and knowledge that are important to everyone, from mental health to nutrition to answering questions during the pandemic. And you can use a lot of different formats to create that message.”

But it also takes a bit of courage, admits Skådinn. It can be hard to convince a client to communicate in new ways, but when you do magic can happen.

“For a government, the entire population is the target group. So we also have to work in a very different way than when we’re working with a defined target group,” Skådinn says.

Alexander Højfeldt Lund er Head of Writing hos det prisvindende content marketing-bureau Brand Movers. Han har været involveret i flere prisvindende content marketing-projekter, hvor han har haft det overordnede ansvar for tekstproduktionen. I Brand Movers leder han tekstafdelingen, der hver dag producerer indhold til store nationale og internationale kunder. Primært er hans ansvar at sikre høj kvalitet i alle tekster, der forlader bureauet og samtidig være katalysator for kreative løsninger og ideer til indholdsproduktionen. Alexander Højfeldt Lund er uddannet journalist og har arbejdet som journalist på Fyens Stiftstidende, redaktør på Jyllands-Posten og redaktionschef i det journalistiske produktionsselskab Media Movers. Den journalistiske baggrund præger Alexander Højfeldt Lunds tilgang til content marketing. Han er vild med de historier, som brands kan fortælle, men han går også meget op i troværdighed, og han insisterer på at udfordre de brands, han arbejder med. På den måde laver man det bedste indhold, mener han.

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