It's just good old fashioned sales promotion, all gussied up in interweb garb and sporting a brand new name.
The idea of storytelling as he explained it to me was simliar to a script, as that's how he approached it. People here are missing the intent behind this mindset. Don't think of story in the traditional way. The 'story' is the sequence of how the whole campaign would unfold initially, yes. This could include print, TV, radio, non-traditional, etc,.
But the key here is that the consumer could enter that story at any point in a non-linear way, not at the beginning or the end. (Think Pulp Fiction with its out-of-sequence non-linerar approach to scene juxtaposition.) So the consumer might see a website, which in turn may lead them back to a tv spot to be released later. Or a viral campaign drives them to search Google for more clues, and so on.
Like many of you, I've done campaigns like this without calling them "storytelling." We called them "promotions" or "events" and swore to the client that whether someone saw the ad in the newspaper or the TV commercial or heard the radio spot, they'd be able to enter the promotion and get the whole story. Later we added website and YouTube video to the mix, which allowed for more clues and fun, but we never called it "storytelling." I mean the whole point of promotions is that the consumer can come in at any point and still catch on/catch up.
Now this is not to take away from these sort of efforts. Many of them are quite good, and very effective. After all, sales promotions were the original "interactive" vehicle.
It's just that "storytelling" word that's so irksome.