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.
- 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.
- The second type of story structure is the imaginative approach. This approach builds an intriguing fantasy world that helps demonstrate a brands proposition.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
And finally, in this Product demonstration for Apple Watch, the product does all the talking!
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”.