Sunday, 24 June 2012

Why I cried when I saw a car this week

Advertisers have discovered stories. There is an advert about a Volkswagen Golf at the moment that I can’t watch because for some reason it makes me cry. This is a major trend (the use of story in ads, not things making me cry. I’m OK guys.). The product is often not featured until the last second. As we have gotten better at ignoring adverts, so advertisers have tried to get better at keeping us watching them. Advertising is becoming a true art. They use stories to hook us in immediately: as curious humans we are truly fallible to narrative. They provide a compelling, emotive narrative featuring characters we can associate with and care about because they are vulnerable. And then at the end, when they have provided all the value, they try to sell us the product. Two conclusions:

1.  As an artist (or entrepreneur/marketer) you may have a great product but no one will care about it unless you can package it and sell it as a compelling, authentic story. This principle is applicable to everyone: screenwriters with great dialogue and hilarious characters that are wasted because of a flimsy plot, stand-ups with great jokes that are presented as an unconnected mess which reduce their impact and lose people’s interest, businesses with a great product but who can’t convince people why it is relevant to their lives and how it will fit into THEIR narrative.

2. Marketing is no longer about interrupting people to tell them to buy your product. It is about giving them a great experience for free and then suggesting they might get more of it they buy what you have to offer. You’re going to have to be creatively prolific and generous. But there is no other way.

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