Posts Tagged ‘Story’

How to create a brand identity…

March 18, 2014

Funny thing about this ad is that it wasn’t made by Tesla. You should read the story here, but basically it was a bunch of college grads looking to break into advertising. They spend a grand total of $1500.

What I love about this ad, is that it totally gets the emotion right. It tells a story of wonder, of excitement, of innocence. There are a lot of reasons to buy a Tesla, but basically, they’re saying you buy it because its just plain cool. (Not because you want to be cool, but because its coolness excites you.) They tell you that in a story, no, that’s not right, they don’t tell you, they show it.

What’s more, I think they capture the truth about what makes Tesla cool. I’ve reviewed a bunch of ads recently that tell great brand stories, but when the company is revealed, it feels like a let down because what they’re saying doesn’t match the identity that brand holds in my mind. Maybe because these guys are outsider or beginners (there’s a whole zen concept of beginner’s mind) or really smart and talented or just really in tune with Tesla (probably some combination of all those things), they seem to hit the nail on the head.

I love the moment with the dad where he dons the cardboard helmet. This spot is what it means to be on-emotion & on-message.

They could have chosen to sell a product, all electric, zero to sixty, cutting edge, blah, blah, blah, instead they created a brand identity. That’s a much harder lift, but it works here because its authentic to the product, and these days, that might be more important than creativity. 

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I’ll take a story with that burrito

September 16, 2013

This Chipotle video is the latest video to “go viral” — as of this writing it has over four million hits.

It’s worth watching too full of pathos and top notch storytelling (the animation is pretty clutch too, from the folks who create Morris Lessmore and his Flying Book & Numberlys). The video is three minutes long, and I’ve already watched it four or five times. Heck, the video isn’t even for the Chipotle per se, but a trailer for their new game!

I’m not going to break down all the reasons why I think this is a great video, either you get it or you don’t. But I do think there are some important lessons you can learn from this video when thinking about your videos or ads:

1. Story matters. They build a compelling story that’s not about the brand, but is precisely about what the brand stands for. A story that shows you their values.

2. Emotions matter. Related to that first lesson, this story is right on-emotion. Imagine a video that had the same message, but maybe it was a narrator with beautiful shots of fresh produce or some other genre appropriate video. It might get the message across, but would anyone watch? And more to the point would anyone remember or believe it?

3. Production Values Matter. Maybe the most important point I could make here.  We all have had clients ask us to produce a viral video, and when we ask how much they want to spend, the amount is usually less than you’d spend on an I-Pad.

Chipotle did fall into that trap. They didn’t say well, it’s only for the web, they produced a top-notch, story with top-notch production values, and I’m guessing they spent more than some people spend on their tv ads.

4. Your story matters. Chipotle is telling your their story (anti-corporate, fresh food, maybe even anti-establishment), but what they’re trying to do is resonate with your story? Are you anti-corporate, believe in fresh food, do you want to be a conformist your whole life? By reflecting your story in theirs, the create believers, they create fans. I’ll take 1 over 10 customers any day of the week.

I love seeing videos like this one. These ads and videos are why I write this blog. Chipotle could have fallen into a trap — hey, we’re just selling burritos, so let’s give ’em a video about how great our burritos are. Instead they told a compelling story that resonates and creates fans, not bad for the price of a burrito.

 

 

Always aim higher

August 29, 2013

A header like, “If you have a heart, this Wrigley gum commercial will make you cry,” set a pretty high bar, but also sets off my ok, I’m gonna call that bluff response. Well, the stupid fricking ad did indeed make me cry or the room got incredibly dusty as it climaxed.

Is the gum a bit of a macguffin here? Sure, it could have been anything, but staking out that space, telling an emotional story about a parent and a child, about sharing something in good times and bad, well that’s powerful. It’s too easy to say, well it’s just gum, we should talk about it’s flavor or it’s ability to solve a problem. Like this crappy gum ad I saw last night:

The Wrigley commercial for Extra gum goes to a higher place on the hierarchy — other gums are minty or clean your mouth, this gum you share and experience, this gum is about love and connection.

The downside here is that I’m not sure this brand of gum has enough of a pre-exisitng space in my brain to make an impression (what’s the brand name again). So an ad like this one for a brand that doesn’t have a position needs repetition in other mediums, it has to tell this same story of sharing again and again in a myriad of different ways (what about directions for making those Origami birds on the inside of each package or a Web site about creating your Wrigley moment).

Still it’s a great ad, and a good reminder that it’s not about the function of the product, but something more.

Sigh. Damn the torpedos.

August 12, 2013

So technically I’m on vacation, but I had to mention this ad because it just seems so… oblivious.

Two things struck me about this ad:

1. How similar in tone and content it is to the Spitzer ad(s).  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

2. Anthony Weiner just doesn’t get it. An ad that ignores what’s happened to him only reinforces the idea that he doesn’t get it, that’s he’s arrrogrant. The subtext of this ad is everything he’s trying to avoid. Instead of confronting his personal issues like Spitzer did in his first ad, Weiner uses the same tone and message, but without similar results.

You can say you get it all you want (which is essentially what Weiner is doing), but if telling people  you get it shows them that you don’t get it, well which story do you think wins?

Take the bull by the horns. Spitzer’s first ad

July 23, 2013

When I talk about confronting the elephant in the room, this is exactly what I mean. I when I said Weiner needed to own his mistakes, to incorporate his fall into the rationale for running again, this is what I mean. This ad grabs you right from the start, and it leads with the most important information in a direct way.

“When you dig yourself a whole you can either lie in the rest of your life or you can do something positive….” That’s a great line. Spitzer appears to be talking to an interviewer, but regardless of whether it was written for him or he came up with it, it’s good copy and it’s well delievered. In fact, this ad reminded me of what I like about Spitzer. As I said to a friend, he may be a son of a bitch, but he’s a son of a bitch who’s on my side. That’s really important in politics, but especially for a position like Comptroller, where,… well let’s face it nobody really knows what they’re supposed to do, but you know it’s about making sure things run the way they’re supposed to.

This ad also does a great job of telling a story. Who’s side is Spitzer on? Yours. Who’s he against? Wall Street, big banks, special interests. I think that works because it doesn’t confuse listing issues or accomplishments with telling a story. The subtext could easily be… Once upon a time there was a guy who went after wall street and took on the powerful interests. They didn’t like him very much. Then he made a mistake… Now, he’s risen from the grave to right that wrong, they still don’t like him very much. Good, fuck ’em.

I couldn’t tell you exactly what he says in that section, but what he says is less important than the sense it conveys. (Frankly, I’m not sure what the lesson here is. Is it just a well delivered line? Is it his conviction or past story that we’re familiar with?)

The spot loses me about 40 seconds in when he starts listing his accomplishments, “When I… blah… blah… blah…” Maybe it’s because it seems more about him than us? Or maybe it’s because it’s a little on the nose, a little too much 4 instead of 2+2.  I’d be alright with ending it with “Everyone deserves a fair shot.” Think the “… even me” not only should have been left unsaid, I think it weakens everything that came before it. Is it about him or us? Is he the fallen hero seeking selfless redemtion slaying demons? (They do a great job of tapping that archetype, btw) Or is he a self-absorbed egomaniac who can’t stand being our of the limelight?

I should also mention the visuals, the close up of the glasses, the empire state building shot, which are really good.

All in all, I think this is a really good spot, that has flaws, but also addresses the biggest hurdle Spitzer would face his own fall from grace.

Being on-emotion

May 30, 2013

A friend sent this to me, with the following comment:

“Too long, but pretty awesome.”

I have to say, even though I could roughly guess what was coming from the intro (and what I know about Coke’s brand), I was still pretty moved in spite of myself.

Here’s yet another example of a video that tells the story of a brand. It doesn’t use facts and figures, doesn’t just tell us we’re all the same whether you’re Indian or Pakistani, it shows it. The joy of the people engaged in the video is both obvious and contagious.

Does Coke taste better than pepsi? Is it cheaper? Is it healthier than other drinks? Probably not (well except on the taste issue), but next time I’m in the super market I’m going to smile when I see that coke display. Maybe that means next time a Coke executive is testifying on the HIll about sugar in soft drinks or selling to kids, I might be more inclined to believe him because I like the brand.

That’s the power of an emotion, and it’s a power that “facts” can’t hope to challenge.

Real honest to goodness authenticity (and we really mean it)

May 6, 2013

I talk a lot about authenticity here. That’s because the best stories, the most compelling storytelling has truth and authenticity at its’ core. It’s not always enough for something to be true, it also has to ring true. That’s a hard lesson to live by.. . I remember many years ago working on an ad, we put a number in there for some fact or another, the number was 100% abosultely true, but it was so large, it just felt… unbelievable. We ended up taking it out because it required too much of the viewer.

I’m all for pushing viewers, not catering to the lowest common denominator as so many ads (political and otherwise) do these days, but you also have to know your audience, and understand their mindset. Like I’ve said before, it’s a fine line between stupid and clever. 

(The Walmart video has several videos all about the same in message and emotion.)

Walmart and JC Penny, both trying to convey a mea culpa of sorts. Walmart of course trying to make themselves something other than the huge behemoth crushing local business and wages, a comapny that treats it’s employees as cheaply as its products. JC Penny fresh off trying to transform itself with Ron Johnson, who ran the Apple stores for so many years, facing falling stock prices and sales.

Both comapnies deserve credit for confronting the elephant in the room, and realizing that they have issues, that shouldn’t be ignored. The question about both of these ads are they authentic in any way?

Is JC Penny really sorry? Are they sorry for not listening or because their changes failed to draw more customers?

Is Walmart really the great place to work and shop they say it is? Just because they say it with happy music and happy customers (and employees) does that make it true?

There’s a story my mom tells… One day the phone rang, my dad answered. “Mr Strasberg,” the voice on the other line asked,”We’re calling for President Nixon….”

“Yes,” my dad answered unphased.

“Yes, we were hoping you could help us with a problem… We’d like you to help us make the President look truthful.”

“I see,” said my dad, “Well, that’s easy, if you want to make the President truthful, then have him tell the truth.”

This is the essential problem with both these ads, and all ads like these ones. The truth speaks for itself. Trust is earned, truth can’t just be created it has to be bought, not with money or air time, but with hard authentic work. There’s no short cut to truth except truth itself. I think both JC Penny and Walmart are going to find this lesson out the hard way.

 

 

The story matters

May 3, 2013

Sometimes you luck into a the story. Think Subway and Jared.

I’ve seen some articles of late saying union membership is down, and unions are talking to their own members not to the public.

Then I watch a video like this one from MLB and Bryce Harper, and I think why aren’t they telling this story, not this exact story, but stories like this. If unions have any symbolic power, its this story of the regular hard working man (or woman) trying to make a better life for his family. It’s a story as old as America, why aren’t unions tapping these stories at a time they need them the most?

Let me tell you a story

April 11, 2013

Next time someone says you need more facts, more message, more talking points, I want you to show them this video:

Ebay isn’t about how safe it is, or how cheap it is, it’s about finding that thing that makes you whole again. This is the power of story. Remember it.

And now a word from our sponsor…

August 1, 2012

Taking a quick break from politics (because there are three or four ads I’d like to write about), I thought in the spirit of the day, I’d write about my favorite Olympic ads.  Fast Company posted this list here.

It’s an interesting list. Here’s their top choice:

Funny, this ad didn’t do much for me. I mean it was alright, but I don’t even think it was the best shoe ad on the list.

I thought the Nike ad “Find your Greatness” was much more inspiring and also much more on brand message:

My two favorite ads on the list are #2 and #3:

Both ads are well shot, but what really sets them apart is the emotional appeal.  How you can you not get a little teary at the end of the Mom’s ad?  And the meet the superhumans is so kick ass and proud, that it would be an insult to call it merely inspirational.

Another element that sets these two ads apart is the outstanding music.  Which both sets and frames a mood, but also drives the spots. Another element that both spots share is reflecting small familiar moments that the viewer can relate to.

The spots just suck you in from the beginning — they open with a quiet stillness that is both intriguing and engaging.

In the Olympic spirt both spots deserve a gold medal.


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