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The Rise of the Chicken-Sized Horse: Why Quantity is as Important as Quality in the Age-Old Content Debate

In the new media landscape, to be influential, you need to produce enough content to get noticed. By fostering a diverse viewership, you can grow your influence more effectively than with monolithic pieces.

Consider the classic game: “Would you rather?” about preparing for hand-to-hand combat with one of two unsavory options: a horse-sized chicken, or one hundred chicken-sized horses. Now, let’s say that instead of being pitted against these beasts, you get to select one option as a partner in content strategy.

The Rise of the Chicken Sized Horse from Casual Films on Vimeo.

In today’s online media landscape, the old idea of a monolithic, totemic “horse-sized chicken piece” as the clucking key to brand establishment is fast giving way to the thundering hooves of a hundred (or several thousand) chicken-sized horses. Specialisation needs to be complemented by saturation, and that’s a good thing.

A Vice? That’s Rubbish

Vice’s Shane Smith not only champions the chicken-sized cavalcade school of content strategy, he rejects the main argument against it: a decline in quality, for the sake of quantity. For Smith, this is irrelevant. As long as Vice’s output maintains it unified, underlying editorial voice, editorial standards can, for the most part, take a back seat.

While other, more ideologically entrenched publications toil away on time-consuming singular projects, Smith’s site focuses on churning out as much content as possible. The way he sees it, with today’s consumers as overstimulated as they are; with only so much time to penetrate an exponentially-expanding archive of information online, more posts mean more chances to drive clicks (and eyes) to Vice. And, frankly, what better way to develop a brand identity and editorial voice than to proliferate it?

Further, the more the Vice brand infiltrates consumer consciousness through their signature brand of hardline stances, conflict-immunity and bold, in-the-field reportage, the more their audience grows. With that growth, more resources can be dedicated to the kind of blockbuster content that less dynamic, horse-sized chicken publications rely on for their sole shots at knock-out-punch branding. That is, for every batch of Vice articles like ‘I Only Lived Because I Was Wasted’: People Share Their Worst Spring Breaks, there are several more like How Standing Rock Birthed a New Generation of Independent Left-Wing Media. In this way, sympathizers to the plight of Spring Break debauchery can become sympathizers to the plights of the systemically oppressed, all under Vice’s expansive umbrella.

Sometimes, More Really is Better

At Casual, we don’t believe in a monolithic horse-sized chicken approach to video content. We also know that, once the consumer discovers our brand, he won’t be satisfied with subpar content. So the idea is to strike a balance between quantity and quality. That balance is found by embracing a diverse array of work. We understand that success doesn’t come by rehashing the same old content, but by constantly forging new paths. Knowledge, as they say, is power.

Vice did not become a juggernaut by flooding the market; they became one by spotting a yawning gap — news and current affairs for and by the millennial audience — and flooding the multiple markets that represented. The challenge of the new media landscape is that targeting and honing a brand’s content to tell one story is no longer sufficient. The beauty of this reality is that it frees us, at Casual, to explore a wider range of possibilities for our clients.

When you ask yourself, “horse-sized chicken, or one hundred chicken-sized horses?” consider the idea of outreach. A horse-sized chicken clucks loudly, but its reach is limited to its immediate audience. One hundred chicken-sized horses, each bred to tell a variety of stories, can cover far more ground. Once those mares come home to roost, their distinctions will have fostered a diverse audience that one single horse-sized chicken could never maintain.

So, the next time you’re faced with the choice between developing a hundred chicken-sized horses or one horse-sized chicken, we advise you to give wings to the former. You might be surprised at just how far your new, improved content strategy will fly.


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