Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Has anyone seen Little Red Riding Hood?

       When I'm asked which TV commercials are the best, I never flinch.

        I immediately go to YouTube and pull up some of the latest fragrance videos. Chanel, Dolce and Gabbana, Calvin Klein, and others.

       They're pure, unadulterated examples of good selling, and they do so generally without uttering a word. That's the power of visual storytelling. When you think about it, life is stories, with our heroes and villains, obstacles, fantasies, dreams and nightmares.

        The commercial I love the most (and wish I wrote!) is for Chanel No. 5, with Estella Warren. We see Little Red Riding Hood, red lipsticked and sophisticated, getting ready for the evening. She reaches into what looks like a gleaming vault, and retrieves a bottle of Chanel No. 5. She puts it on and is about to leave. Her guard dog tries to go with her, but she tells him to stay. She wraps the red hood and cape around her as the door opens. She walks out, alone, under the Paris sky.

        It's a story, Coco Chanel's story, of the independent woman, told perfectly. Truly a commercial for intelligent adults, masterfully told.

        The other commercials I love in this category tell stories, too. The chambermaid who hides the male guest's towel, as a souvenir for herself. A beautiful shop clerk whose romantic instincts awakens a movie star to think for himself. A woman whose wiles turn a bellboy on his heels. Provocative? Sure. And very alluring. Completely informed persuasion.

        The next time you are charged with writing anything, tell a story. A story about the benefit of the product, what it's really used for. It can be a parody, a fable, a fairy tale, a myth, or a  detective story. Just be sure it has the elements of a good story.

        For one thing, it's fun telling stories; it's an important way humans relate. And it's even more fun to be on the receiving end. Stories are a gift.

        That's my story for today.


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