Story Telling To Spur Action

Project Re:Brief was a very interesting marketing experiment (and a sales pitch) by Google.

As part of this, Google had partnered with five of the brightest “old-school” legends from advertising to re-imagine and re-create their most iconic creative work from a half-century ago for the modern web. These include:

  • ‘Hilltop’ –  Coke
  • “Drive it like you hate it” –  Volvo
  • “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” – Alka Seltzer
  • “We try harder” – Avis

Take time to go through this website and ‘navigate’ through the re-mastered versions of these iconic campaigns of the last century. The documentary on this project has been premiered at Cannes 2012 and went on to win accolades for its idea and execution. However, the big insight that stuck to me was what they had to say in their synopsis:

“Project Re: Brief ….. aims to shake up the ad industry and inspire new ways of thinking. While shifting formats and media platforms is one thing, as we learn from our heroes of the past, the basic tenets of human storytelling haven’t changed.” 

The evolution in formats/media notwithstanding, the fundamental tenets of human story telling are still the bedrocks of great advertising. For example, consider one of the key challenges of the current Integrated Brand Communications landscape. With brands aggressively taking on to various types of Paid, Owned and Earned media formats in the Digital/Social Media space, a big part of the challenge still remains – How can marketers use conventional media channels (Print/TV ads etc) to drive people online in order to continue the conversation further?

By just having the URL of the brand’s page or a message like “become a fan on our Facebook page” slapped at the end frame of the TV commercial? A representative statistic of the state of TV and Print ads trying to drive people online:

(2011 UK Statistic: Source)

But why on earth would I even pay attention to these ads – let alone feel motivated to memorize the keyword/URL and take time to actually visit the page? Ironically that device is often called “Call To Action”.

There are countless examples of flawed executions that attempt to drive people online through their TV/Print Ads. In most cases it’s not that the attempt wasn’t ingenious. It’s not that they lack a clear direction or an underlying strategy that seeks to unite different channels towards a central message. It’s not even that they lack the ‘innovativeness’ of the new media. I believe that it’s because such attempts seem to side step the basic tenets of human story telling. 

Why? Because, I firmly believe that ‘Powerful Communication’ – in any form- is all about the story and how its told. Especially when a piece of communication needs to make you reflect upon and react to something in a very tangible way. See the film below and notice how the ‘story’ is told. Don’t miss how dramatic it gets towards the end.

Till around 1 min 20s into the film everything seems to be ‘oh-so-sweet’ /’oh-so-cute’ , making you even ignore the whole point of this – till the moment the kid asks: “(But Hang on) Why are you even asking me that?” That’s when it begins. A spine chilling revelation, a shocking fact that makes you sit up and start paying attention. It wakes you up to your most receptive state before splashing the last frame with the URL. That’s it. It’s done.

How many of you actually considered visiting the page now?

This film (by Wieden + Kennedy) was first shown at the 8th Annual Clinton Global Initiative earlier this week and proves in a very powerful way that the classic tenets of human story telling are still as impactful if not more in making us sit up, take notice and perhaps even take action. Even if the action entails us taking the time and effort to visit a website.

By the way the website in itself is pretty cool and has its own well researched spiel to spur you into thought and action towards the end.

Any brilliant executions of Call To Action that you have come across off late?

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