A 23-minute branded documentary that doesn’t talk about the brand.

You’ll hear this often at Toast: If you’re doing branded content, talk as little as possible about the brand, or at least be respectful of your audience if you do.

This is what Norton has done in a long-form documentary they recently released, part of a series they launched with an initial episode in June 2015. In both episodes, there aren’t any mentions of the brand (other than in the opening and closing credits and an interview with a Norton expert on the subject).

But it hits a bullseye on brand values and the value proposition of the brand: online security. (Norton is the company that develops security and antivirus software.)

In the 2016 23-minute video, a investigative filmmaker searches for very high security data centers around the world. Basically asking the question: “Where do cybercriminals hide?”


The overall content is very interesting and well produced. Its goal is to work on building brand awareness and brand equity by providing entertaining and relevant information on cybersecurity, without selling a Norton product directly.

The article I am sharing with you today is not an article on the project itself, but actual press coverage the second episode received. And this is where content always gets interesting, when it gets traction and is useful enough to its audience so that it gets talked about and shared.

The documentary became the reason this journalist wrote an article about secure data centers. Of course, you’ll say, there must be PR behind this, and I have no problems with it at all. If the subject matter interests a journalist, so be it.

Most media outlets now have different design templates for articles that were directly sponsored by a brand, and this one, published over at Vice, doesn’t have it. This would mean that the content Norton produced was interesting and relevant enough for the journalist to write a review/article about it.

And this is what brands can learn from this. If you produce good video content, it will be talked about, and hopefully can be picked up by media outlets that will make it reach an even larger audience.

I will let you read this article and learn more about highly secure data centers, but keep your branded-content-thinking-cap on and analyze how this branded content video made it out to a larger audience.

And if you’d like to learn more about how to produce content like this, simply write an email to [email protected] and we’ll be in touch.