Advertising Week Europe

Advertising Week Europe 2017 Official Guide

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STORYTELLING, CONFLICT, AND PLATFORMS Rick Boyko, long-time creative and President of VCU's Brandcenter explains the ad biz very simply: "We are story- tellers in service of brands." Seven words, but they sum up what we do quite nicely. Our job is to get our brands' stories into the national conversation and ultimately into the firmament of popular culture. "To make them famous," as they say at Crispin. The thing is, we don't get people talking about our brands by reading them product benefits off the sales guys' spec sheets. People talk in stories and so must we. There's a great book I recommend to ad students. It's not about advertising, but screenwriting: Robert McKee's Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting. McKee makes a convincing case that the human brain is wired to hunger for story— that a structure of three acts, taking us from problem to unexpected solu- tion, is something our brains crave. Story just sucks us in. Even when we know how the story is going to end on some Alldramaisconflict. Everystoryyou've everheard,read, orseenhashad conflictatitscore. C H A P T E R 8 WhyIs TheBadGuy AlwaysMore Interesting? late-night TV movie, we stay up later than we ought to just to watch the dang thing. Theorists suggest that story is actually a cognitive structure our brains use to encode information. So in addition to its drawing power, story has lasting power—it helps us remember things. ("Did you see that spot last night? The one where the . . .") Our job is to discover the stories behind our brands and tell them in a way that will get people's attention. "Told well," Bogusky and Winsor write, "they stick in our minds forever." What's interesting is that even though the ascendancy of digital and online looks to be a permanent change, the classic construct of a story not only continues to work in the new medium, its narrative power is amplified. I'm re- minded of an interview of Avatar director, James Cameron. Asked what permanent changes digital technology has made in filmmaking, Cameron was fairly dismissive, saying, "Filmmaking is not going to ever fundamentally change. It's about storytelling." (Cameron's comment also explains why some of the Star Wars prequels kinda sucked—it was special effects over storytelling.) STORIES RUN ON CONFLICT Okay, speaking of Star Wars, let's stop for a moment and imagine Star Wars without Darth Vader. We open on young Skywalker holding his light saber and then … uh, and then he puts it down and goes inside, prob- ably for dinner or something. The moral of this non-story is: If you don't have conflict you don't have a story. All drama is conflict. Every story you've ever heard, read, or seen has had conflict at its core. Sadly, this observa- tion seems to be lost on many clients and agencies. The reason is that most of the time clients want to show how great life is after purchasing their fine products. It's a happy place where no one ever has cavities, everybody's car always starts, and nobody's overdrawn at the bank. Excerpted with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons Inc., from Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads Whipple by Luke Sullivan. Copyright © 2016 by Luke Sullivan and Edward Boches. All rights reserved. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers. AWE 2017 283

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