After the advent of social media, this phrase has become the cornerstone for marketing agencies. Content is King. This has been heard and said by marketing managers so many times, it’s practically a meme in itself.
But who said it first? Was it one of those talented people at Hubspot? Was it a CMO of one of those big-name companies like Google or Yahoo? Google has been trying to make this phrase very popular, but they weren’t the ones to come up with it. The actual answer is surprising, and leads us to two very unlikely individuals.
The first is one Sumner Redstone. You might not have heard of him, but he is a big name in the world of media. He had an illustrious education and career: an undergraduate degree at Harvard, moving on to cracking Japanese ciphers for the US Army during World War II, graduating from Harvard Law and finally ending up on the boards of the biggest media channels in the world – CBS, Viacom, Paramount Pictures, the whole shebang! The most surprising thing of all is that he said this famous phrase sometime in the early 1990’s, more than 20 years ago! He believed that distribution channels would always exist, but content would definitely reign king – an almost prophetic declaration, something that is very much true today.
Watch him talk about this phenomenon here:
Unlike Sumner’s amazing education record, the second person we’re going to discuss today is a college dropout.
Yup. Bill Gates. The one and only. Sumner might have coined the phrase, but Bill Gates was the one who gave it context and meaning with respect to the internet. He published an article on his personal portal on the Microsoft website titled Content is King, on 3 Jan 1996. It set out his manifesto and vision of how the internet will evolve over the years. Here’s a tiny snippet from the article:
“Over time, the breadth of information on the Internet will be enormous, which will make it compelling. Although the gold rush atmosphere today is primarily confined to the United States, I expect it to sweep the world as communications costs come down and a critical mass of localized content becomes available in different countries.” – Bill Gates
Yeah, he was predicting entire trends and phenomenon 20 years in the future, and here we are, not even able to choose what kind of coffee to order at Starbucks. I’ll leave you with the link to read the original Content is King article on Bill Gates’ website.
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