In an age where advertising has become an integral part of every aspect of our lives, what does it take for an advertisement to create an impact on the audiences’ minds? Earlier, it was relatively easy for the companies to create a brand, make a good television or print campaign, assign a decent budget and get the job done. In the early 90’s, when a competition was limited and the desired audience was sure to be found through the planned (and limited) entertainment channels, branding was not as complex as it is today.
Since then, the dynamics have changed significantly - competition has intensified with more and more multinationals entering the Indian market, newer mediums and channels like digital and mobile advertising have been introduced, the preferences of the consumer have evolved and they have become more conscious. All these have put a lot of pressure on the marketer.
But, even in this ultra-modern age where virtual life has replaced the traditional principles of living, we can take inspiration from one of the most successful techniques – building the context through storytelling.
Since time immemorial, stories have been an integral part of human civilization. Communicated through varied forms – cave paintings, oral traditions, dance & drama, puppet shows – stories have been an inevitable part of every culture.
Stories have been a significant part of our childhood as well- bedtime stories, to stories that were told to make feeding time easy, to stories that instilled moral values and made us understand the importance of the culture we are living in, or stories that just amused us. This amazing mix of facts and fiction is so powerful in shaping beliefs and perceptions in our mind that before we know it they become critical while making important decisions of our lives.
It is these stories that have created heroes and villains or established impressions of positives and negatives in our minds. Even a small child knows that Ram is a hero and Ravan is the villain. He is easily able to tell that being on the side of Ram is good and fighting against Ravan - the evil - is right. He also learns with an ease that Hanuman is a positive character and he can fly and lift mountains.
Children easily remember that eating spinach gives Popeye power and ‘laddoo’ makes Chhota Bheem strong enough to punch the goons. Ask them why Arjun won every time and they will be able to tell you about his supreme command over the bow and arrow.
Ever wondered why kids find it easy to remember the USP of Arjun or Hanuman or any of the cartoon characters. The answer lies in the storytelling. In addition, what makes the story such an effective medium? I believe that it is the interesting context around which the story is built, which makes it so memorable. If the context would not have been strong or interesting or something that sets a background for a greater good of the society, the USP’s of these characters may not have made a powerful impact on the minds of the audience either.
For brands to become memorable, it is vital that they weave the USP in the right context and propagate them through a credible source. While the story should focus on something that people care about, the brand should only be a part of the narrative. It is much beyond communicating the benefits of the products or services and more about creating an emotional connect with the consumer. When you give your consumer an interesting story to share within his / her circle, it becomes the most effective form of marketing at times.
Here are some of my favourite brands that used the storytelling platform in an effective manner:
A granddaughter decides to surprise her grandfather on his birthday by reuniting him with his childhood friend, who now is in Pakistan, after six decades of separation with the help of Google Search.
A wife leaves a video recording for her husband before leaving for her father's house. She does this to make him realise that due in this busy schedule it's also important to make time for relationships.
Birla Sun Life
A man fights hard against all the odds to build the future of his child who is suffering from autism.
Tata Sky Daily Recharge
Series of ads created around a love story
Mother-daughter astronaut TVC with a delightful message.
LG innovation story - everything is possible.