A Cardboard Guitar – A Materclass In Content Marketing

I shared the video of the Cardboard Guitar on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, but I really wanted to talk in more detail about one of the best pieces of original branded content I have ever seen.



This Doesn’t feel Like Marketing

Exactly! The best part about this video is that I just enjoyed watching it.  And I shared it.  I shared it on my business page as a great example of marketing. I also shared it on my personal Facebook and Twitter feeds because it was something I was happy for my friends to think I liked.

And it’s a video made by a company who makes cardboard boxes!! Ok, There is a little more to it than that, they make a lot of different kinds of packaging. But unless that’s your business, your need or your niche you aren’t looking them up on purpose.

Is that mean? A little, but I didn’t intend it to be. Be honest with yourself, how interested are you in cardboard? Now ask yourself how interested you are in seeing whether or not these guys can make a useable guitar out of cardboard. I am a firm believer that while there are unsexy industries that shouldn’t limit your ability to market or tell stories. This is sexy as hell.


The original video for the Cardboard Guitar is found on Earnest Packaging‘s blog ‘The Earnest Buzz‘ which is a great use of a company blog. There is industry information on there, the latest ‘thing’ in packaging and a whole series of ‘challenge’ videos, like this one.  All branded under the hashtag #CardboardChaos. There is also a very cool video on a cardboard snowboard, which I highly recommend.

They make you want to browse the blog. Their Twitter feed highlights are a little intrusive, but they tell a compelling story. The company loves what they do and their audience feels the same.

Crafting A Cardboard Guitar 

As I said in my Facebook post, aside from how incredibly awesome the cardboard guitar is, this company knows how to do marketing.  They are 100% winning in their content marketing right here. Just Google cardboard guitar and see the high-quality websites providing back links for this. People from tech e-zine Engadget and the high traffic news churner Mental Floss to guitar gods Fender Custom themselves. 

It’s also been tweeted by the celebrities that appear in the video. Linkin Park’s lead singer Chester Bennington has sent at least 3 tweets about it.

They have taken a subject that people could argue is boring. Cardboard and packaging. And they have created a great series of videos and articles on unexpected things that can be achieved.


As a Marketer, you are only restricted by the passion any given company has about what it does. As Caroline Miller says there are no boring brands, just boring marketers. This company has passion in spades and they are not afraid to promote that.
This marks Earnest Packaging out as innovators, free thinkers and problem solvers. All excellent qualities you would want in a business you may want to partner with. We also see the personality of a company who is willing to challenge itself. They made a cardboard surfboard for heaven’s sake. Paper, on water. PAPER.
I have no need of product packaging, but if I ever do, I know who I’m talking to first.

Viral Marketing Is Rarely Accidental

Not all of us have access to a Fender custom workshop or a reason to be there. Nor can we get our hands on big names in the music industry, or extreme sports. But unless you believe that this product packaging company just happens to have these phone numbers laying about then you have to accept the genius of what they have done.

Yes, they were partnered up with another company but they approached surfers, musicians and companies with a proposition. It’s unlikely that proposition was mutual exposure, Linkin Park doesn’t need the Cardboard Guitar for promotion, Earnest Packaging does. But it’s a cool idea and it sparked excitement.  Just watch the Fender employees reaction to being asked to play it. They are all blown away and they just made it.

Not Marketing for Sales

This kind of excitement is infectious. It brought in the skilled workman who crafted the guitar and the ‘big names’ who played it. It also brought in the viewers. This video popped up in my feed because it was shared by a musician friend of mine. This has resonated with an audience which is not obviously helpful to Earnest Packagings bottom line.  At the time of writing, there were over 887,000 views.

My guitar-obsessed friend probably isn’t going to be ordering any packaging either. Maybe. But someone in the network of people who saw this video might. That’s not really the point, though. This is great Content Marketing specifically because it is not angling for sales. There is a brief mention of the company and its partner at the beginning and a simple video sting at the end, reminding you of the company and giving contact info.

Will there be any sales made directly off the back of this video? Maybe, but that’s not the ROI. I know who they are now and I didn’t before. If you are reading this, now so do you. You think of them a certain way now too. Not as cardboard people, not as packing people but as a cool business. That’s a huge USP in their industry.

They are also now synonymous with sustainability because of their cardboard snowboard and the people who are pushing the boundaries of the possible because of all of these projects.

It also may not have been their intention, but I know at least one guy who wants to place an order for a cardboard guitar.

What do you think they did right or wrong with this video?


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