The human mind is genetically wired to appreciate storytelling. It’s shaped our evolution and our history long before we had tools to record it.
Marketers everywhere tend to craft messages around the popular stories that have people talking because consumers are savvy enough to know when they are being sold to. This shift from story to sales as a result of the constant calls, spam, click-bait we are all accustomed to. Once a consumer feels an advertising intrusion, it’s immediately tuned out.
Storytelling is the connection that captivates our attention and inspires us to take action. If a brand has a product not easily positioned to sell on features or faces addressing a scandal, what better way to create a positive association than with an emotional connection? Connect with people on a human level with a message that resonates and they will latch on to your offering.
The main ways in which a brand will connect emotionally with a story in the eyes of the consumer:
- Tied to current events/social issues
- Common themes of love, redemption, friendship or nostalgia
Case Example #1 – Google “Sheroes”
Arya Stark really kicks butt. Seriously. She’s an inspirational yet self-effacing character who saves the day. The biggest reason why she is so unassuming is that she is not the typical tall, buff and male superhero. She’s small and female and packs every ounce of the same deadly punch. And it makes for a great story during the final GOT season.
Enter 2019, the year of the Shero. As a result of a year in sports where women made headlines, female storytelling abounds. From Serena Williams’s impressive Wimbledon comeback after harrowing childbirth to the US Women’s Soccer Team dominating the world. The Shero trend represents the cultural significance of the year. Google was right there to capitalize on the trending topic.
Google, a brand habitually facing the criticism of consumers for security breaches is sometimes seen as the enemy who preys on the internet user. While search arguably enhances our lives enough to use it anyway, Google’s offering is similar to competitors. Crafting their message using highly emotional popular topics positions them uniquely and helps to create a positive emotional brand experience.
Case Example #2 – Extra “A girl. A guy. And a stick of gum. See their love story unwrap”
In the literal sense, this next brand tells the story they want their brand to convey in a 1:57 second commercial spot. Gum is a tough sell, it’s a last-minute purchase at the end of the counter before checkout. Aside from category differences in sugar-free or sugar-filled, for most, this $2 purchase is not heavily weighted.
While competitors are changing features with flavor crystals and mouth wash mini explosions, Extra and their iconic wrappers never upgraded. For most marketers at the time, the obvious would have been to follow the “pack” and change the features of the gum and perhaps the packaging. According to creators from BBDO, the spot is not just about romance “but about all moments of connection… We knew we had a beautiful story to share.”
Seeing an opportunity to re-invent via promotion, Advertisers connected viewers to gum in a way that flavor crystals never could. We all can relate to the feelings of first love, nostalgia, and sentimentality. The payoff is a heartfelt story that only reveals itself as a gum commercial at the very end. No insidious music, blaring lights, screaming voiceovers, just a simple age-old love story giving the viewer a slice of life they can reminisce of their own connective experience.