Thursday, June 25, 2015
by Denfield

Once upon a story: the importance of storytelling in advertising.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Once upon a time… there was a story. You may have noticed that more and more brands are opting to tell stories in their advertising and marketing campaigns. It’s not a new thing – many brands have long used either single or episodic stories in their campaigns to connect with their audience. Oxo and BT are two that spring instantly to mind – both of which centre around nuclear families.

We, the viewer, are encouraged to invest in the character’s lives, as children turn into adults and tragic events rock their worlds. But, of course, there’s one steadfast thing that remains in the character’s lives - they can always rely on their faithful (gravy or internet connection) to come through for them and bring them back together as a family.

Recently, advertising has become bolder and more abstract in its storytelling, with brands choosing nostalgic and emotional tales in order to identify with their audience. Some brands opt for stories with very tenuous, or even no link to the brand product itself. The primary aim of this type of storytelling is less to advertise products, and more to advertise a brand’s core values and intentions.

Effective recent examples this type of advertising include John Lewis’ 2013 Christmas advert ‘The Bear and the Hare’ and Nationwide’s ‘On your side for generations’.

So, why is storytelling proving so popular in advertising? It’s relatable to everyone. Storytelling is a basic and fundamental aspect of human nature, one which we’re inherently and instinctively drawn to. Just think how young children plead to be read a story at bedtime. Humans need stories to emotionally connect with their world - things stay with us when we connect with them, so evoking an emotional response goes beyond the facts, figures, dates and sales pitches urging us to buy! buy! buy! Instead, it is a subtler and arguably more effective way of connecting with an audience, and inducing a sense of nostalgia makes it memorable.

Storytelling in advertising also has appeal with social media audiences. Shares, likes and comments are exactly what every brand wants. Storytelling evokes conversation, people want to share stories with their friends, and the most effective way of doing this is through their social media accounts – this also reaches the most amount of people. Viewers (or listeners, or readers), are able to draw parallels with their own lives though the brand, bringing them closer to it, and elevating them above just a provider of a service or product.

Let’s face it – there’s no reason why we can’t know everything about a brand without advertising shoving it down our throats. Most things are transparent these days – everything from salaries to expenditure, so when a customer is able to personally connect with a brand’s core values, they’re much more likely to stay loyal customers. Storytelling encourages this loyalty though sharing.

So, should advertisers and marketers ensure that they incorporate more storytelling into their content? Hell yes they should! How we embrace this difference between content and stories will be a key component in the industry’s future success.

And they all lived happily ever after.

The End