Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The story's the thing.

         Everybody loves stories. We tell them at the coffee machine, we tell them at dinner, we tell them to the kids. Then we look for other people to tell them to. It's been that way since the first cave man told his friend about his cave. Today, stories make the best ads and commercials.

         Those include the Kia commercial where a kid rides his bike into the factory, and sees not only people working but also amazing- looking robots. How about the VW commercial where a boy dressed as Darth Vader manages to get The Force to start a Passat?

          Every Dolce and Gabbana ad tells its own strange story; only in pictures, but communicating much about the brand. So do the Cosmopolitan Hotel ads, with their "just the right amount of wrong".

          The reality shows on TV are all about stories --- about families, fashion designers, bachelors, overweight people, cooks, and the rest of us. Even the news is stories.

           What was the story that kicked off the success of Subway? The story of Jared, who told a college newspaper he was losing weight on a Subway diet. An ad agency executive tracked Jared down and talked Subway into telling the story. Today Subway has more restaurants than McDonalds. And don't forget the guy from Verizon who asked, "Can you hear me now?"

           A popular commercial these days is for Tostidos. The bag is the spokesperson who interrelates at social gatherings. Next Tostidos will be finding new ways to use the spokesbag on Facebook and in banner ads.

          Social media are also storytelling outlets. You can see people, read a profile, and you sort of make up your own story. On dating sites you can get some data and decide whether to turn that data into more  of the story.

          In his book "Socialnomics", author Erik Qualman says, "Successful companies in social media will function more like entertainment companies, publishers, or party planners rather than as traditional advertisers". Advertisers will be telling stories, giving advice, holding meetings and most likely, paying for product placement in everything from TV programs to ibooks.

         And we'll all participate one way or another. We'll read, watch, chime in. We'll squawk when a company changes something without asking us. And most of all, we'll enjoy or reject or contribute to the stories of our lives.

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