Category Archives: Insights

Storyline Structures in Advertising – AKA Storytelling in Advertising 101.

Great ads tell great stories. I think most people agree on this. So, the question is, how does one write a great ad with a great storyline?

I think advertising storylines have a few overarching idea ‘Arcs’ in common. Once we recognize them, it might help us generate better ideas.

  1. The first is centered on using an instinctive approach. Here an idea captures a universal or culturally relevant insight or trend, and links it to the brand in a relevant way. Sure, the tone of voice will vary across categories and brands – some might use humor, camaraderie, joy, nostalgia or other emotions – but at their heart, they connect with an underlying ‘truth’ associated with the brand or category.
  2. The second type of story structure is the imaginative approach. This approach builds an intriguing fantasy world that helps demonstrate a brands proposition.
  3. The third approach is using projection to get the audience to transfer or extend  their hopes and desires (ego) onto the product or service being sold. Of course this method can also work in reverse – using fear or threat to warn the viewer of what could potentially go wrong if they make an incorrect decision. Either way, this is about getting the viewer to project their hopes and fears and then tying it up with the product in a relevant way.
  4. In the final category, when we have a stand out or new product feature, we can showcase it with a simple product demonstration done in a beautiful way.

Here are some examples that may make my points clearer.

Instinctive approach: IKEA are experts in simple, lighthearted ads that effortlessly communicate its proposition in witty and insightfully creative ways. The ad below is an example of instinctive / insightful communication built on a modern cultural truth about the way we live in a digital world.

IKEA BookBook

Imaginative approach: On the other hand, this campaign for Georgetown Optician is an imaginative story that tells the fictional story of a family obsessed with eyewear. It effectively communicates the point that Georgetown opticians are experts in glasses.

Georgetown Opticians

Projection: This campaign for NIKE, taps into peoples hopes and aspirations by empowering the audience to dream about the person they could become if they associate with NIKE.

NIKE Last

And finally, in this Product demonstration for Apple Watch, the product does all the talking!

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Hopefully this deconstruction will help in your next brief. Try to see where some of your favorite ads fit into this spectrum. And whatever you do, “keep it real or keep it edgy”.

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Winning with heart.

The creative business is a people business – the business of connecting with people through ideas and solutions. It’s sometimes art and other times science. But we all agree that the best communications are those that touch the heart, tell interesting stories and get people to change their attitude or behaviour.

To do that well, we must be able to harness our own empathy and human understanding. Motivations are varied, and if we don’t open up to understand these motivations, we will be less successful in ‘winning with heart’.

At the same time, ‘winning people’s hearts’ requires us to embody and nurture the same values and characteristics (in ourselves, within our companies and relationships) that we are trying to inspire.

What do you do in your daily life that helps you (1) Understand better, and (2) Foster the values you try to achieve in your work?

How to get to where you want to go.

Not another dinosaur.

I think ‘strategy’ is the most over used word in this industry.  Too often it is misunderstood, and too often people use it inter-changeably with just ‘a thought’.

Good strategy is creative, just like good creative has to be strategic.

Good strategy is a jump from the mundane. It’s based on an idea. It makes a statement about what the brand is up to. Following from this people either buy into the brand or they don’t.

When you think about campaigns like Avis’s ‘we try harder’, or Honda’s ‘power of dreams’ it is very obvious what the brand is up to, the strategy stands out.

Here are some jump starters for writing good communication strategy:

1. Develop an insight or story, and then summarise it as a strategy.

2. Think ‘what is my creative angle on this problem’ what’s the larger than life proposition to the world?

3. Think ‘what…

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What Your Social Media ‘Likes’ Say About You.

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Important 10 minute talk touching on consumer behaviour / modelling / data / predictions / privacy | How social media “likes” help marketers tailor their message.
 
I believe creative agencies can’t survive in the future if we cannot model consumer decisions – and more importantly what influences behaviour. Sure we might be Creative Engines but it doesn’t mean that data \ technology \ research shouldn’t be driving and informing the creative engine.

What does Obesity have to do with Advertising?

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This talk is interesting not only from a nutrition & health perspective (it might lead to a debunking of some long held beliefs about obesity & diabetes) but because of the scientific thought process behind it which we could learn from. It shows a willingness to challenge the pre-accepted hypothesis and to develop empathy with a situation rather than just passing quick judgement.

It is a demonstration of open minds, courage to throw out yesterday’s hypothesis, and a recognition that scientific truth isn’t final but constantly evolving.

So how can we learn from this for our own industry? For me there are two points:

First, although advertising is not a science but we should try to make it so – for example we search for an insight just like researchers looking for Cholinesterase inhibitors treating Alzheimers. The difference is that we shouldn’t debate, procrastinate and pontificate over it but instead invest in a true process of discovery.

Second, even when we do uncover an amazing insight, the enchantment of great advertising is not actually the insight itself but about taking a straight forward insight and turning it into something amazing.

The point is that ultimately advertising is an entertainment / creative & social industry. Maybe we shouldn’t be over-thinking creativity and searching for a holy grail, and instead just letting go of our inhibitions and enjoying ourselves (just like when we watch something that engages us). Let’s be honest with ourselves – these days whether a campaign for a noble humanitarian cause or the next big Soda campaign, the life span of an idea is a few days / weeks with a # before something else takes its place. So let’s be nimble, let’s be flexible, let’s search for entertaining ideas rather than unequivocal truths because there are very few unequivocal truths in the world, but many points of connection.

I’d like to leave you with this message from Joi Ito. If innovation has been broken down and democratized, then it’s right for advertising to be also broken down and democratised. The future is about not getting bogged down in words and statements and more about quick prototyping, experimenting, learning to trust the team and building on each others ideas. This doesn’t take the responsibility off strategic rigour, but it recognises that advertising just like Science and Innovation is about experimenting, coming up with quick iterations, building and breaking hypothesis and then getting to the point where we can make a creative leap to something fresh yet useful.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

#newwaysofworking.
Brenda.