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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May 25, 2016

The Big Shop

Time for me to be ‘untrendy’. When we hear about how grocery shopping habits are changing, it’s all about ‘a little and often’ and how we are falling out of love with the big weekly shop.

Well, I would like to tell you about a recent visit I made to a new supermarket that is not all about convenience trips, but somewhere very big (80, 000 sq foot). It’s the Sainsbury’s store at Westwood Cross in Thanet, which opened in November 2014. As I have explored in other posts, Thanet is more worthy of exploration and evaluation than you might at first think on encountering a part of the country which is flat till it reaches the muddy grey sea and populated by people who are older and/or less affluent than their other Kentish peers.

Sainsbury land

I have been meaning to check out this Sainsbury’s for some time now as its arrival was heralded with much fanfare (it would create jobs, require changing the local road system, be the epitome of the latest and best in sustainable design etc). I found this nice leaflet online which helps to give a sense of how the store was a big deal. Note in particular the community initiatives – which I assume were meant to help make the new supermarket be part of the local scene, rather than to create a scene. But I must confess I am little underwhelmed by the employment of just one local construction management trainee and the donation of soil to a local campsite to help construct a new golf course!

Going inside the store itself was sadly also rather underwhelming. Walking through the threshold with a sense of great anticipation, past the plug-ins for electric vehicles (setting false expectations for something quite different), it was still a Sainsbury’s.

Sainsbury car park

This meant nice enough clothes and household goods, and nice food, but failing to give the impression of an emporium teeming with a rich abundance of exciting items. The aisles were very wide – not doubt good for avoiding trolley crashes – but it compounded the sense of emptiness you get from looking at shelves which could be fuller.

Sainsbury inside

However, it was not a fruitless journey as I did manage to find an item I had never come across before and wasn’t even looking for: giant couscous. Have you ever tried it? NB not worth the trip to Westcross!

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