xrematon

September 10, 2016

Story telling part 1

Filed under: Marketing,Uncategorized — by xrematon @ 3:54 pm
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Now the dust has long settled over the big creative outburst in advertising at Christmas and before we start over again, it seems, according to this survey from Google, that the John Lewis ‘Man on the Moon’ offering was most popular.

Though I personally preferred the less sentimental Mog advert from Sainsburys, I was intrigued by the way in which the ‘Man on the Moon’ invited you to literally ‘continue the story’. This little phrase got me thinking….

You hear lots about story telling in the world of brands at the moment. You can sign up for story telling workshops where you learn how to use techniques from the screen writer’s toolkit; there is an agency, Aesop, that claims to focus on taking this approach, and brands have been ranked according to their story telling ability. But where exactly are the stories in marketing and what sort of tales are they? Having done a bit of digging and thinking, it seems that the use of stories operates at different levels but with lots of fuzziness blurring them all up.

  1. Some adverts, whether TV, cinema or online content, are literally played out as stories – there is a sense of narrative to them. The story provides the creative framework and dynamic. The Sainsburys Mog advert is a good example here.
  2. Stories can exist at a higher level – in terms of the story the brand or company tells of itself. This can be a story about its heritage and founders, the journey it has been on and the like. It’s a story that can be articulated to both internal and external audiences. Lots of luxury brands do this kind of story telling – consider this statement from Christopher Bailey at Burberry, ‘It’s not just a coat. That coat has a story. People want the soul in things. They want to understand the whys and the whats and the values that surround it.’
  3. The third level is most indistinct and hardest to clearly define – people use stories as a catch-all term to describe what a brand is about – its values, strategy, positioning and purpose. Some would say that Coke’s story is about happiness.

But stories are not all equal – there are different ways in which a narrative can progress. The mighty tome from Christopher Booker, ‘The seven basic plots’, is useful for giving ideas here. I’ll explore that further in my second blog post on story telling. This gives me licence to say ‘to be continued’….!

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December 8, 2011

Materalism still lives?

Filed under: Consumer Trends,Marketing — by xrematon @ 11:20 am
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Compare and contrast the following:

I already have a beautiful wife, a hilarious son, two hondas and a decent house. What else does a man need?

One of the most outrageous incidents of the day was in the Los Angeles area, where up to 20 people were injured after a woman at a Walmart used pepper spray to get an edge on other shoppers in a rush for Xbox game consoles.

The reason I wanted to highlight these was that I was struck by a statement in a piece which mentioned the concept of a post-consumer generation. It got me thinking – I wasn’t sure I agreed.

In reading about the Khan Academy (an online educational resource started by an ex-fund manager), I came across the first statement, which was the founder’s explanation as to why he didn’t try to make the Academy into a big business venture. His words do seem to echo the sentiment of someone looking for more from life than an ever expanding pile of ‘stuff’.

However, a couple of days later, I was reading about Black Friday and events described in the second paragraph. And again, in the UK, something comparable from an interim report on the August riots which suggested that

the 13,000 to 15,000 estimated rioters who took part in £500m worth of looting and destruction were not motivated by coalition cuts or politics, but by the belief – only belatedly corrected by the 4,000 arrests so far – that they could get away with stealing supposedly high-status goods on an industrial scale.

That sounds more like people who still very much want ‘stuff’.

There are some simple factors at play. The current economic environment has meant people cannot afford to buy all they want. Tellingly, agreement with the statement ‘I’ve got all the material possessions I need’ has dropped from 58% in 2008 to 50% in 2010 amongst US consumers in the Global Monitor Survey from The Futures Company.

However, I don’t think that means companies should go all out on appealing to our still live acquisitive instincts. In the UK, the Littlewoods Xmas advert which shows a nativity play with children rapping and singing about their presents bought by their mums, didn’t go down very well. Amongst some of the comments bouncing around on mumsnet were the following:

Encourages debt fuelled consumerism (easy payments)
Could pressurise people out of guilt to spend more than they can afford

Better to do a John Lewis and have an ad which doesn’t really show any ‘stuff’ and makes us cry!

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