Branded content has become commonplace in the current media landscape, but The Atlantic and Allstate are kicking it up a notch with The Renewal Project. A press release describes the site as "a social-first website and newsroom that will spotlight individuals and organizations advancing social good and contributing to civic innovation in America." Atlantic Media Strategies (AMS) the creative agency and consulting arm of The Atlantic, created The Renewal Project as part of "an ongoing two-year editorial and marketing partnership" between it and Allstate.
The partnership doesn't end at the news site. The two companies will also be collaborating on a "yearlong series of events around the country convening local innovators and community leaders to talk about progress at the grassroots level." They will also continue The Renewal Awards, which began in 2015, when the companies recognized six local organizations driving positive change in their communities at a social innovation summit. It will also continue The Allstate-Atlantic Media Heartland Monitor Poll.
Of course, content marketing aficionados and media watchers in general will recognize this as a bigger, and possibly better, version of branded content. Visit The Renewal Project and the only sign you'll see of Allstate on the homepage is in very small type, and it took me a couple of passes to spot it.
Instead you find stories about everything from wood waste to raising mental health awareness, from the mass incarceration of women to a poll on the "American Dream." You'll even find cooking tips from celebrity chef Jose Andres. If you head over to the About page, you'll learn more about the project and the partnership. But make no mistake, this is an example of what branded content can be. Allstate's financial backing is allowing The Atlantic to tell stories it might not have otherwise been able to focus on, while promoting Allstate's message of the importance of civic engagement. As "of the moment" as this might seem, it isn't an entirely new partnership.
"Since 2009, Allstate has supported our coverage-on the web, at events, and in polling-of the ways Americans are adjusting to rapid changes in the economy," said Bob Cohn, president of The Atlantic in the press release. "With The Renewal Project, we expand that partnership to a new platform designed to reach audiences primarily through social and mobile distribution."
"Hope and fueling positive change is the inspiration behind this work," said Sanjay Gupta, executive vice president of marketing, innovation and corporate relations for Allstate, in the same press release. "Allstate and its 10,000 small business owners know that meaningful progress happens at the local level. Local innovators are finding unique solutions to tough challenges and renewing America from the ground up. The Renewal Project shares these stories of individuals and organizations who are making communities stronger and helping people live a good life every day."