Do you want to hear a story or help create a story?

David Bertowitz recently wrote an article in Advertising Age that raises the question: Are the storytelling ways of marketers coming to an end in favor of becoming a “story maker”? My answer: no. I don’t believe that storytelling is coming to an end; instead I think that storytelling is now a part of story making. If you create a story, you or someone else needs to tell the story on the brand’s behalf. Sometimes the consumer is not interested in another story thought up by a marketing whiz at Corporate Headquarters.

This is where the consumer is being called upon. Brands such as AppleBee’s are filling their Instagram accounts with photos taken by diners. This tactic encourages followers, as people always love to be featured on someone else’s page. Shannon Scott, Executive Director of Marketing Communications at Applebee’s says, “People continue to prove that they’re more into the stuff they create versus the stuff we create”. This user-generated content is a great way to include consumers in the story making process. Now they are hooked.

Bertowitz cites the “Share a Coke” campaign as a “radical” new campaign that asks users to share their stories via custom labels. While, from a packaging standpoint this is a newer concept, Coca-Cola is not the only company including users as story creators. He states that story telling from the brands standpoint is fiction, but this is not always true.

To me the real purpose of the Coca-Cola campaign is to get the user involved in the story and become invested in the telling, sharing, and creation processes. Brands such as Apple, Red Bull, and Starbucks tell stories that allow the consumer to identify with the brand’s culture. Consumers are then encouraged to share their stories via social media. Here the brand has started the story or discussion about the product and then passed the baton to the consumer, starting a relay of sorts. Consumers then share, re-tweet, and post their stories; stories that create a brand buzz better than anything the marketing department could have conjured up on their own. The rise of social media, the Internet, and blogs has definitely changed story telling. The consumer can become part of the process in a way that was not possible 15 years ago.

References

Bertowitz, D. (2014, September 17). The beginning of the end of storytelling. Brands need to be story Makers not story tellers. Advertising Age. Retrieved from http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/beginning-end-storytelling/294975/

Johnson, L. (2014, September 22). Food porn campaign gives Applebee’s a social lift. AdWeek. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/food-porn-campaign-gives-applebees-social-lift-160257

About Frank

Frank Rivera is a current graduate school student in USC's online Master of Communication program. Mr Rivera is a speaking coach, Expert Trade Compliance Officer, Course Developer and Instructor for the Office of Field Operations, U.S. Customs & Border Protection.
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5 Responses to Do you want to hear a story or help create a story?

  1. Amy Wheeler says:

    I completely agree that storytelling is not dead. I think brands are just getting smarter by tapping into our socially connected world to use consumers to tell the story. User generated content like that found in the Applebees campaign has created an amazing amount of brand awareness and economic value for companies tapping into this tactic. Some may fear that this is the death of an ad agency, and it’s true the agencies who don’t evolve to this new way of interacting and socializing with consumers will die. The agencies who continue to push the envelope and come up with big, fresh ideas for consumers to interact with the brand in an evolving social media environment will be the ones to thrive.

  2. Nicholette says:

    I love this post. I agree that storytelling will live on, and that creating a story with consumers will have to coexist for brands that want to maximize the engagement and retention of their customers. Instead of speaking at them, brands are conversing with them and perhaps the new role of the ad agency is to create campaigns, that initiate the conversation. We see this happening more and more when ad agencies integrate a twitter campaign (#fillintheblank) that complements their own ad in order to involve consumers. In a way this is almost the new version of word of mouth marketing- one of the best endorsements that any brand can get. Great post!

  3. pchoksi says:

    I truly sincerely enjoy story telling in advertising, it affects me deeply and I really connect to certain themes that i have experiences with. I read somewhere that, now is the time for the brands to make stories and not just tell stories. This has a very good sense to it. Brands should now strive to create an experience of their own, there are a few like Coke, Harley Davidson which have a strong brand presence and experience.

  4. pchoksi says:

    I truly sincerely enjoy story telling in advertising, it affects me deeply and I really connect to certain themes that i have experiences with. I read somewhere that, now is the time for the brands to make stories and not just tell stories. This has a very good sense to it. Brands should now strive to create an experience of their own, there are a few like Harley Davidson which have a strong brand presence and experience.

  5. Dominic says:

    Shayla:

    This is one of the most marketing categories studied. I am shocked how companies attempt to “manufacture” brand experience. So many companies rush to create inorganic campaigns rather than letting the brand speak for itself. And, as you mentioned, nowadays it’s so easy with social media to interact. Brands should piggyback off these experiences and tell their story thereafter. With the internet and social media, brand storytelling is only going to increase, as there are more platforms to tell a story,