Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Storytelling is Joke Telling: Why it Matters in Advertising

When you are in the industry that I am in, it is all about telling a story. That's not true actually, it should be about storytelling. What it becomes all too often is terrible regurgitations of creative briefs. This results in near plagiarized ideas of other successful advertising and campaigns and commercials designed to shock or simply grab attention. Now let's look at one of the most successful storytellers.

Andrew Stanton is a filmmaker at Pixar/Disney, and is responsible for some of the most iconic movies of the last 25 years. Finding Nemo, Toy Story and Wall-E, just to name a few. Simply put, the guy knows how to tell a damn compelling story. The advertising industry could learn a lot from him. Here are a few of my thoughts from his great TED Talk.  
  • "Storytelling is joke telling." Using humor is indeed a great device in advertising, but it has to lead to a bigger pay off. Humor is not the reward, it is the device that leads the customer to the reward.  
  • "We all want affirmations." We want shared experiences. being part of a larger community is a must for emotional connection.   
  • "The greatest story commandment is: Make me care." To care about your brand they have to understand your brand. To understand your brand you need to relate it to who they are and what they stand for. Confirming some truth that reinforces who we are. Mr. Stanton uses a great quote, "There isn't anyone you couldn't learn to love once you've heard their story." -Mr. Rogers. This is it in a nutshell. 
  • Humans are born problem solvers. The audience wants to "work for their meal." They just don't want to know it. Don't craft your story so simply were it is obvious. Leave a few gaps and let people fill them in. Wall-E is a very pure example of storytelling where you have to work. No dialogue will do that to a movie. However, with beautiful flow, design, sound and music, we are able to complete the story. In my estimation we complete the story better than if there had been dialogue.  
  • Be true to yourself, your story and your brand. Without truthful storytelling all the rest is just window dressing.   

Now let Mr. Stanton weave a story for you...

Wes Anderson & an 8-Year-Old Inspire Us [Video]

A really exceptional stop-motion commercial from director Wes Anderson.
The spot is for the Sony Xperia Smartphone, and tells the story of how the phone works, as imagined by Jake Ryan, an 8-year-old boy. In Jake's world, little robots inside the phone make it work. It is a really enjoyable and sweet commercial. Further proof that storytelling is the key to advertising. Also, that kids are usually the most creative among us. 

For added inspiration, I have also included a Wes Anderson Hyundai commercial that is equally enjoyable as well as a highlight reel of some of Mr. Anderson's incredibly awesome and quirky films.


Wes Anderson Hyundai Ad Wes Anderson Highlight Reel

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly [The Infographic]

Our friends at Copyblogger have compiled a rather entertaining and helpful Infographic. It reminds us that, while we all make typographical errors and grammar mistakes, it is important to edit your work. Better still, have others edit your writing for content, grammar and errors. It is also important that we strive to correct common errors that we repeat. While mistakes do occur, there is no excuse for repeating our errors. That is akin to continually writing that 2+2=5.

Enjoy, and feel free to share.

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
Like this infographic? Get more copywriting tips from Copyblogger.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Three Most Important (And Simple) Rules For Social Media

Yes, three simple rules, but first a bit of context.

I am asked regularly to speak on social media communications and management. They are seeking for me to help frame the role that the evolving social media world is having on brands, consumers, purchasing... Really, everything and everyone. In this ongoing work with clients, I have formed various guides and offered lots of advice. In this quest to offer solutions, I kept deleting slides and boiling the information down further and further. I finally arrived at one simple piece of advice with three rules. Thus far, I have yet to find someone who can break them.

It's true if it's on a t-shirt!
But first, a bit of an aside. I am NOT a Social Media expert. Do I work a lot within social media channels? Yes. Do I actively test and use the latest social media channels and tools? Absolutely. However, I still believe that anyone billing themselves as a "Social Media Expert" should be viewed with skepticism. I advise anyone looking to engage an expert in social media to ask them about their experience not in social media, but about their experience in public relations, communication, journalism, brand strategy and storytelling. The lack of the ability to convey a coherent idea and to contextualize situations is the biggest challenge, not finding the latest app.

Now, on to it...

The Three Most Important Rules in Social Media

1.   Be Responsive
Ensure that you not only have a process for monitoring social media, but be prepared to quickly engage when conversations do start. Many people still assume that their social media messages will go unanswered by companies. Prompt engagement, even bad news, will diffuse many problems before they grow. 
2.   Be Honest
This should go without saying, but it is the rule most broken. Follow the same rules you should follow in public relations. Clearly and simply explain what you are trying to convey. Brevity and simplicity is key, but distorting the truth is an absolute no no. Communication, even Tweets, live forever now. Lack of honesty will come back to get you.
3.   Be Authentic
Use your own life experiences as an example. Let's pick on the airlines for a minute. How many times have you heard the same pat corporate statement to address something bad? "Our policy clearly states..." This is usually followed by some very bad news and a hollow apology. Corporate policies have a place and are necessary at times. However, if you can deliver the news in human terms, use your name, apologize in a real way. This also goes for the terrible auto responses by companies. People are smart enough to know an auto-response. It is worth having a smart, educated (and if possible witty) person on the other end responding with real typed words.   

BONUS:  Anyone who attempts to validate their social media expertise by saying what their Klout Score is, or casually mentioning how many Twitter Followers they have deserves a quick, but powerful, kick in the ass.
Instead, look at what the person is communicating, how they are communicating it and what the response is.