Pecha Kucha @ Vision Bristol 2011
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Pecha Kucha @ Vision Bristol 2011



A short opinion piece I delivered at the Pecha Kucha session at the Vision conference.

A short opinion piece I delivered at the Pecha Kucha session at the Vision conference.



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Pecha Kucha @ Vision Bristol 2011 Pecha Kucha @ Vision Bristol 2011 Presentation Transcript

  • 1
    • Hello
    • Busy day, dark, and nearly bedtime
    • How about a story to help you unwind and relax.
    • Because that’s very now isn’t it? To talk about brand narrative, story arc and the like.
    • Why should this be?
  • 2
    • Once upon a time we were constrained
    • By 30 seconds on TV
    • Or the 48 sheets of a poster.
    • But now, there’s so much of the internet. We must fill it up. How do we fill it up?
    • As so often, the removal of constraints on creative people does not help.
    • The stories are getting worse
    • Their impact is diminished.
  • 3
    • But, perhaps because of the nature of the media, its’ ability to measure the effect rather than the effectiveness of everything has led us to talk of…
    • Content and engagement
    • Which are horrid words, with no joy or art in them.
    • So what makes a good story?
  • 4
    • You need a hero. You don’t have to like them, but you do have to care what happens to them.
    • Heroes are not perfect - they have flaws.
    • A brand can be flawed too. Maybe it stubbornly only does one thing, which limits NPD, but makes consumers love it all the more.
    • Celebrate these flaws - don’t remove them.
  • 5
    • Now what do you do with your hero? Well, Kurt Vonnegut put it like this:
    • “ Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.”
    • This is the classic advertising torture test.
    • Show the brand under duress
  • 6
    • From stubborn stains to ground in grime, brands have always been good at putting themselves in difficult circumstances to show how they perform.
    • Ok, so it’s not Hamlet having his Father murdered and his Uncle marrying his Mother.
    • But it is the same structure.
    • You show what you’re made of when faced with Mr Kipling’s triumph or disaster
  • 7
    • More about heroes and characters. They must ‘quest’ they must want something.
    • For brands it must be more than you simply to buy them. A good example of this would be Ikea and their ‘chuck out your chintz’ campaign from a few years ago.
    • Aligned to more than just a profit motive, but also to Ingvar Kamprad’s original vision for Ikea which was ‘to create a better life for the many’.
    • Called on us to stop Tudorbethaning and chintzing and become modern.
  • 8
    • So it was also a test of us, the consumer, or to go back to storytelling – the reader.
    • It challenged us, through the prism of our hero’s quest and desire, to question our own choices and perhaps to change.
    • This is what art does. What a good story does. It tests us.
    • It challenges, forces us to reconsider our beliefs or our perception of things.
  • 9
    • A hard nut for marketing to crack in stories.
    • To move. To affect. To prompt action and hardest of all, change.
    • It’s especially hard because we are, for the most part, trying to get people to do casual everyday things.
    • All of which leads me back to where we started, in looking at the way brands are behaving in new media, at the stories they are crafting and communicating…
  • 10
    • Brands are opting for history.
    • History is written by the victors, or at least the brand owners.
    • Provenance can be scripted.
    • On the web, no-one can alter your ‘About Us’ page
    • What do you think of…?
  • 11
    • Why is this so wrong? It’s because it’s tell, tell, tell tales.
    • It breaks one of the fundamental rules of creative writing – which is SHOW, don’t tell.
    • Tell. At 40, Peter was bald,and still nervous about public speaking.
    • Show. “Peter rubbed a hand across his shaven head, the bristle of his departed hair distracting him momentarily from the tight knot binding his stomach. He was losing his place, and losing his audience…”
  • 12
    • It’s no surprise really
    • We don’t take care, consider, and craft anecdotes for each other anymore.
    • We are simply in transmit mode, constantly recounting endless stories verbatim to each other as they unfolded.
  • 13
    • Brands are therefore simply mimicking the behaviour of their consumers.
    • We’ve become all tell, and no show.
    • Which is why, when a brand uses a bit of rather wonderful old fashioned ‘show’ in their story, we are all awed and agog.
    • The brand I’m talking about is John Lewis, and in particular their Christmas TV ad.
  • 14
    • One of their major competitors, M&S, may have co-opted the show contestants to appear in their TV ad, but it’s John Lewis that has the X Factor.
    • Why? Because it understands, like the TV show itself, that the provenance of the artists is merely context.
    • It’s what, in the movie business, they call ‘exposition’,
    • Background information. Interesting, but not central.
  • 15
    • So it can be very dull. In fact, Humphrey Bogart memorably said
    • “ Whenever I have to deliver exposition, I hope they put two camels behind me fucking so the audience'll have something interesting to look at ”
    • X Factor understands that it’s the back story you tell, but it’s the show you sell.
  • 16
    • We’re invited to vote on the artists performance. To judge them on the show they put on,and their ability to move us, to act, even to buy.
    • The ‘Live Show’ is storytelling with a purpose.
    • Which is what, on a commercial level, is what advertising and marketing remains.
  • 17
    • The John Lewis ad doesn’t feature any kettles, jumpers, bedspreads, or most importantly, prices.
    • It doesn’t tell me anything. It shows me a sentimental, schmaltzy, but powerful evocation of the commercial meaning of Christmas.
    • Why has the potent storytelling of the John Lewis ad become so rare? Why have we stopped showing, and simply resorted to telling? Perhaps because it’s harder.
  • 18
    • Putting on a show. Entertaining and truly engaging
    • Is harder than just telling somebody some facts.
    • Show a brand in conflict or triumphing in adversity is a more difficult task than simply telling the consumer that it washes whiter.
    • But it’s worth doing. Because this is the best use of your creativity, of your art, in a story.
  • 19
    • For anyone can tell a story, but show, design, illustrate, photograph, shoot, basically CREATE, and
    • If you capture the point, the theme, the feeling that you want to convey
    • You’re far more likely to get people to take it on at a deep, emotional level.
  • 20
    • And if we can all do that this Christmas, then we, and the brands we work on can all live happily ever after.