Note to Brands: Tell Me A Story

Storytelling - Chipotle Scarecrow

Recently, Chipotle and TrueMove H (a Thai mobile phone company) have come out with some emotion-evoking commercials that are getting a lot of buzz, and really yanking on the heart strings.  Whether you agree with their messages or not, these videos highlight something big that we in advertising are always trying to express to our clients: the importance of storytelling.

Storytelling is a way of organizing information, conveying emotions, and building community in a memorable and impactful way that people have been using since the dawn of time…OK, maybe not that far back, but early examples include Aesop’s fables, fairytales, the Bible, among others. Storytelling allows people – and in our world, brands – to persuade without appearing overly obvious or pushy.  It allows brands to enter into a new space or reinvent themselves with their end users, assuming the story is told well.

Many brands think they do this already, but they are not quite hitting the mark.  Typically, a brand creates a video that presents a challenge and then a solution, cause and effect.  However, a good story goes beyond that, has a dramatic arc.  Enter the Chipotle and TrueMove H video:

Dr. Paul Zak, Professor of Economics, conducted a study of how the human brain responds to effective storytelling. What he discovered is that even the simplest narrative, if it is engaging and follows the classic dramatic arc, can evoke powerful empathic responses. This is what we’re getting with the Chipotle and TrueMove H commercials. Classic storytelling with dramatic arc, that engages the user, involves them emotionally in the experience and creates an emotional memory connected to a desired action. Oh, and without being blatantly obvious about it as well. My message here: Tell stories, take risks, involve your customers and let them be brought along to make a decision versus just telling them what to do.

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