Aug 7, 2007

A Rose By Any Other Name (More On Storytelling)

So Bill Green, better known as the erudite host of Make The Logo Bigger, has provided some insight into this insidious thing called "storytelling."

It's just good old fashioned sales promotion, all gussied up in interweb garb and sporting a brand new name.

To wit:
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.


HighJive said...

I thought you were referring to JWT’s Ty Montague, who hypes “postmodern storytelling.”

Anonymous said...

“erudite.” Had to look that one up.


Anonymous said...

Pardon me, I missed this series. Is it that 'storytelling' is bothering you becuz it's just same old that's packaged to look like shiny new--and worse, people are falling for it/running with it?

I do think that branding needs to tell a story (and in b2b many times I use metaphors to hit that story home). But I'm not sold on it being "new"...we are however, afforded new tools/technologies to complement that story.

And the rub is that our story isn't in our control since people can call us on it.

Maybe you need a spin-off to YBINMF that starts a taxonomy or index of bogus terms. You could call it sumthin' like YLINSNN (your lingo is not shiny nor new). Nah, it needs to be more clever.

Anonymous said...


Alan Wolk said...

@CK: Yes, what bugs me is all these people running around acting like they've just discovered some brand new advertising technique.

Followed closely by all the people who use the term haphazardly to describe just about any new campaign.

The actual thing itself- having a multidimensional ad campaign that lures people in from different media and different levels of caring-- that's a strong idea.

I'll work on that acronym for you ;)

HighJive said...

"The actual thing itself- having a multidimensional ad campaign that lures people in from different media and different levels of caring-- that's a strong idea."

um, isn't that just integrated marketing, which has been around for a few decades at least?

Alan Wolk said...

@HJ: Yes, that was my point-- that it's a strong technique that's been around for years. The fact that some knuckleheads are calling it "storytelling" and trying to pretend they've discovered a whole new way to advertise shouldn't take away from the fact that it's a valid (and very much tried and true) technique.

HighJive said...

somebody's going to make a lot of money by calling what they do advertising—then delivering on producing advertising.

but until then, the hacks will continue to generate new names for their traditional smoke-and-mirrors.