Archives for posts with tag: storytelling

Two videos touched me last week.

The first video is the NFL Hall of Fame acceptance speech by Shannon Sharpe. It will go down as the best speech in the long history of the NFL Hall of Fame.


Shannon Sharpe is a good speaker, definitely not a great speaker. He doesn’t have the best delivery, the best technique.

He doesn’t need.

He has a great story.

A story that will grip. Touch you. Make you weep.

It’s a story about decency, hard work, dedication, determination and a lot of love.

Most brands tell story greatly.

They tend to say the same thing than their competitors, their advertising agency just says it differently.

Just look at automotive advertising (turns, horsepower, freedom) or marketing for toothpaste (clean, white, fresh).

The majority of brands utilize position strategies that converge on the same position as their rival, they just look for the agencies to say the same thing a bit different.

Over the years the message gets tired and only updated with new commercial directors, actors or cool CGI. The mini site gets a funky navigation, the Facebook a crazy promotion, the logo a new treatment. The product doesn’t differentiate, leading to improving category consumption NOT brand selection. (“Ok, all toothpaste make me feel fresh but I have no clue what brand to choose.”) Resulting in an enormous waste of advertising dollars. And benefiting the category aka the competition not your own brand.

A few brands tell a great story.

Brands that tell a great story identified a product/service dimension that dramatically differentiates themselves from competitors.

No worries, I’m not going to trot out the tired examples of Apple, Amazon or Zappos.

Let’s talk about The Melt.

Basically, The Melt is grilled sandwich restaurant. Mildly interesting.

Where it becomes fascinating when basic food and technology collides. The Melt is the brain child of Jonathan Kaplan (he made a few pennies with the Flip camera. $590 million dollars to Cisco, to be exact.) His vision is to open five restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area starting in August, with the hope of expanding to 500 locations over the next five years.

The technology angle makes this venture interesting. As the WSJ says: “When customers order using the company’s location-based mobile application, The Melt will fire up the sandwiches as the customers are nearby, and they can pay through their phones and skip a line.”




World Domination. (Ok, maybe)

Great stories are the DNA of your brand.

You need to reconnect with them. Excavate them. Bring them to light.

A lot of people are talking about content marketing and storytelling.

It’s going to be an important part of your marketing mix.

But you need to tell great stories first before you focus on telling them greatly.


Once in a while, you’ll discover a gem where people find ways to tell a great story greatly.

They only had $10,000.

And a great story.

They made it work.

So can you.


Last week I went with a client to a fancy restaurant. For the wine list, we geeked out on an iPad.

Seems like a perfect match. You can look at regions, match it up with your dinner choices, build a tool that incorporates the preferences of the table, update the inventory on the fly and delete a wine from the list when it’s sold out.

You can double-geek out and use your iPhone to compare prices. Very cool, right?

When you appeal to rationality, you pay dearly for it

Once you get people into a data mode, they will become hyper-rational and search for the optimum solution. Suddenly you’re chasing the deal. What’s the best price/value ratio? The enjoyment of the wine is equal to the deal you get.

When you tell a story, people will pay for it.

Buying an expensive bottle of wine in a restaurant is irrational. People don’t care as long as you offer them a buying experience. And that experience can’t live on an iPad; it’s a real-life experience. The stories the sommelier tells about the individual wines, the opening ritual, the human interaction with the sommelier, the sniffing of the cork. That is the real value of the purchase for the bottle. And the profit margin that will either make or break your restaurant.

Tell your story to the right people in the right place.

An iPad wine list is cool. But it doesn’t belong in a restaurant and doesn’t speak to the right people. An iPad loaded with product information in a waiting area while your car is being serviced is also cool. And it tells the right story to the right people.


This speech is 39 years old. It  was given by Jermy Bullmore, CD at JWT London to Kraft executives. It’s as relevant as ever:

“Language itself is never completely explicit. Words have suggestive, evocative powers; but at the same time they are merely stepping-stones for thought. The artist rules his subjects by turning them into accomplices.

And that seems to me as good as a definition of the role of the creative man in advertising as I’ve ever read. We have to try to rule our subjects by turning them into accomplices; because, if they aren’t accomplices, they may well turn out to be enemies.

Let me now summarize where I think I’ve got to so far, before going on to illustrate the thesis with examples of advertising.

– Many people – our consumers – find much advertising irritating: and if anything, this trend is on the increaser. Some of this irritation is undoubtedly caused by the weight of advertising, by the intensity of advertising, by repetition and by the irrelevance of certain groups of products to certain groups of people. (…)

– But some, at least, of this irritation springs from advertisements which people describe as being an “insult to their intelligence”.

– What this particular phrase seems to mean is not simply talking down to people, or hectoring people. It means that the ‘sender’ has an inadequate understanding of the communication process in general and the role of the receiver in particular.

– The receiver is not passive: he is active. He will contribute, complete, modify, reject, select or repudiate: whether we like it or not. He doesn’t absorb messages: he responds to stimuli. He draws his own conclusions.

– If we attempt to deny him the chance to contribute, we run the risk not only of failing to achieve satisfactory communication, but of irritating him a great deal into the bargain.”

Isn’t it fascinating to see that we haven’t made that much progress in almost 40 years? The majority of advertisers are still yelling. The fragmentation of communication channels should lead to a golden age of storytelling. Let’s hope so.

Do yourself and read the whole speech. It’s fantastic.

Unless you advertise this abomination


This column appeared first on Jack Myers’ MediaBizBloggers site

Kirk McDonald, President, Digital, Time Inc. keynoted at the iMedia Agency Summit in sunny Phoenix and predicted the next decade will be the age of storytelling.


The pendulum that swings between art and science in advertising has moved too far to the science part of advertising in the past decade. We have focused on making markets more efficient and not focus enough on moving markets. While there’s a good case to be made to introduce algorithms into advertising, we have gone too far. We forgot that advertising is about people with lives and soul and energy, and we have to re-focus our efforts on developing creative ideas and innovation in advertising to make meaningful connections with people. While a good delivery mechanism is vital to deliver relevant messages to people, we have to put as much (or even more energy) in crafting messages that connect more with the heart and soul of people.

We have to stop the race to the bottom

While his message is clearly self-serving (publishers can’t live on CPM rates of $0.23), it still rings very true. For years, the digital marketing community has been engaged in a race to the bottom. The problem when you race to the bottom: The winner is still at the bottom. For the advertising community to find its footing again, we need to reverse that trend and race to the top again. Connect with the heart and soul of people. Tell stories they want to share. Tell stories that inspire them. Listen to the stories of people and share them with the world. New tools and platforms allow advertisers to co-create and collaborate with people. This is a unique opportunity. The industry is at crossroads: It is our responsibility to stay away from the pull of short-term gains and focus on the long-term health of the advertising industry. And regain its soul again.