STORY-TELLING IN ( ADVERTISING ) BUSINESS
MASTERING THE ART
by LUCIA TREZOVA Prague, October, 2014
What people call „stories“ are often just narratives in best cases, in worst cases it is just pure information. The story must have a specific structure and must contain specific elements to be called „a story“.
PEOPLE IN MARKETING WHO TALK „STORIES“ USUALLY DO NOT TALK ABOUT STORIES AT ALL…
FACTS TELL, BUT STORIES SELL
„HISTORY OF A MANKIND IS THE ONE GREAT STORY. STORIES ARE ALL MYTHS, ALL LEGENDS. EVERY HUMAN’ S LIFE IS A PERSONAL STORY. EVERY SPEECH WE GIVE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED HAS A FORM OF THE STORY. WE THINK IN STORIES, WE LIVE STORIES. WE CAN’T DO IT DIFFERENTLY.“
WHAT IS A STORY ?
Story is a coherent narrative with plot, populated with characters, containing twist, and communicating meanings. Stories pass moral judgment on events. They stimulate strong emotions of sympathy, love, anger, fear, anxiety and so forth. They cause our involvement and identification.
So…Let’s summarize all necessary story elements which all together make:
A GOOD STORY
CREATE A CONFLICT !
NO CONFLICT, NO STORY....
Conflict does not mean necessarily, that people have to fight or argue. Conflict can be inside of a person.
Conflict often means the necessity to choose: from the two directions to go, between two different motives to follow, two impulses to obey,
or two values to embrace and pursue...
CONFLICT IS ALSO CHOOSING ONE PRODUCT AND REFUSING THE OTHER.
STICK TO THE STRUCTURE !
The structure of the good story has not changed since the times of the Greek drama. Good story must contain the same parts as formulated by Aristotle: the Beginning, the Middle and the End.
This structure is applied in myths, in fairy-tales, in novels as well as in all Hollywood movies.
…THIS STRUCTURE SHOULD BE ADOPTED BY EACH GOOD COMMERCIAL…
LEARN THIS STRUCTURE FIRST !
FOLLOW THE FREYTAG’S TRIANGLE
Exposition - Ground Situation
Klimax – Turning Point or AHA Experience
Denouement - New Ground Situation
Resolution or catharsis
LET’S MAKE IT SIMPLE… WHAT IS THE STRUCTURE OF THE GOOD STORY…?
MIDDLE: conflict, complications, the main hero goes through trials, overcomes obstacles, fights or struggles and suffers
BEGINNING: sets up the situation
END: conflict resolution or catharsis, new equilibrium is created, key message or moral judgment is sent over
MAKE AN INTERESTING PLOT !
Mark Twain agreed. His first rule of writing was “that a tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere.”
Without the plot you give your audience just pure information.
WELL… WE ALL CAN REMEBER ADs WITH PLOTS CULMINATING IN A SURPRISING POINT.
WE ALL KNOW THESE ADs ARE THE BEST.
MAKE A TWIST !
Twist and turns make the story striking. There are two “events” that can cause a turning point: an action or a revelation. Something someone does or something someone learns can cause the story to turn in a new direction.
SOMEONE JUST DISCOVERED THE NEW BANKING ACCOUNT CAN SAVE MONEY?
SOMEONE JUST EXPERIENCED NEW WASHING POWDER MADE THE LOUNDRY EVEN WHITER?
SOMETIME IT’S ENOUGH, SOMETIME NOT…
THE HEROES MUST EVOLVE!
Transformation of the main heroes is what keeps the story compelling. Tales of metamorphosis are not only ancient, they tap into the deepest recesses of human consciousness. If we want to turn the story, we have to change what the main characters want, desire or value over the course of the story. Heroes should alter: mentally, physically or emotionally.
…WHAT KIND OF TRANSFORMATION DOES YOUR PRODUCT PROMISE? …HOW YOUR CUSTOMERS WILL TRANSFORM BY USING YOUR PRODUCT? …HOW THIS CHANGE WILL AFFECT THEIR LIVES?
EVOKE IMAGERY !
Words are interesting, pictures are unforgettable. Words must create visual images. One image can speak more than a thousand words. Use words which generate vivid images and sensual body feelings. Use metaphors. Use poetic language. Make your audience see, hear and feel.
I AM SURE IT IS CLEAR. NO MORE WORDS ARE NEEDED….
GIVE THEM EMOTIONS !
Make your audience laugh, make people cry, make them feel scary, make them feel happy, make them feel guilty, make them feel ashamed, make them feel proud or make them feel smart and clever.
….BUT, YOUR PRODUCT FEATURING IN YOUR ADs SHOULD MAKE YOUR AUDIENCE FEEL ENPOWERED. ALWAYS.
JUST MAKE THEM FEEL…SOMETHING
LOVE THEM OR HATE THEM !
Make your audience identify with your heroes. Let your heroes generate strong emotions. Any emotion, either positive or negative one creates a strong bond.
…IDENTIFICATION WILL GIVE YOUR CUSTOMERS A SENSE OF PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. IDENTIFICATION WILL CONNECT YOUR CUSTOMERS WITH YOUR BRAND OR PRODUCT
SAY WHAT YOU STAND FOR !
Stories speak out values and morale. Stories pass moral judgments. The bad guys vs. the good guys, the good and the evil… Good guys not always win, but we always feel when they should. We can recognize injustice. A good story carries an important message easily recognizable by the audience. Message is what we want our listeners to remember when they forget details of our story.
…CAN YOUR AUDIENCE AFTER WATCHING YOUR NEW TV COMMERCIAL FORMULATE CLEARLY WHY THEY DESPARATELY NEED YOUR NEW PRODUCT?
MAKE YOUR STORY WORTH
Good stories are told over and over. The same fairytales are told to millions of children every night. Why? Because they communicate the universal truth. Because they tackle the universal values inside us. We want to hear them. Again and again…
THIS IS A SECRET OF ALL VIRAL ADs. PEOPLE WANT TO SHARE THEM, PEOPLE WANT TO SPREAD THEM. WHY? BECAUSE THEY FEEL CONNECTED THROUGH THEM WITH OTHER PEOPLE…
IS THAT ALL ?
YES, IT IS.
JUST ONE MORE THING !
HELP PEOPLE CREATE THEIR OWN STORIES AROUND YOUR BRAND.