The stories we tel

As featured in Cream 9 February 2015

It’s said that there’s only seven basic stories in the world: overcoming the monster, the quest, tragedy, comedy, rebirth, rags to riches, and voyage and return. These stories are present in every narrative.

Advertising also tells these stories, and great advertising abstracts conventional linear narratives to create an intense emotional response unable to be sustained in feature films. While these storytelling archetypes give movies and traditional advertising a flexible and relatable basis to connect with audiences, we can find true depth in more contemporary ways of storytelling.

In recent years, the popularity of documentaries has bloomed amongst viewers and filmmakers alike. Searching for Sugar Man (Overcoming the Monster/Rags to Riches), Touching the Void (Journey and Return), Grizzly Man (Tragedy) and Stories We Tell (Journey and Return) are testament that however much we are bombarded by fiction, we are still searching for the pure and visceral – for unheard, true stories.

If (great) ads can rival or even outstrip the emotional punch of a movie, then content can be the perfect partner to the documentary – the true story. If companies and brands spend more time understanding their brand story, core audiences, and their authority to publish, then content marketing provides the opportunity for stories to change behaviour in a smarter and more profound way.

Did Super Size Me damage McDonald’s? Did An Inconvenient Truth help raise awareness of climate change? The answer is yes. Storytelling for the modern age creates a depth of influence that traditional advertising struggles to match.

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