Why are Pixar movies so darn lovable? The answer doesn’t lie with high-end animation technology or celebrity voice-actors (though they help). The reason why all people across the world have fallen for Pixar is that they tell incredible stories. Whether they are tales of cooking-obsessed rats or ballooning senior citizens, Pixar’s ability to spin yarns leave audiences howling with laughter and moved to tears. Because of this, they are very hard to forget. Even if you have the memory skills of Dory.
Cognitive Psychologist Jerome Bruner states that stories are 22 times more memorable than facts alone. In fact, it’s an old trick that if you’re given a list of words to memorize, you’re more likely to remember them if you link them in a story. This is because stories involve us emotionally. We become invested in them, and when we invest emotionally in something we are far more likely to remember it.
Understanding the importance of good storytelling give advertisers a great advantage. It’s no wonder so many commercials use storytelling as a technique to convince audiences to buy products. Unlike novels and films, however, TV commercials do not have the luxury of time: the average advert is 30 seconds long. Sometimes, even 15 or 10 seconds. Luckily, advertisers have realized that it’s not the size that matters, it’s what you do with it.
A smart route to take is humour: by adding it, you are not only creating a commercial that will be remembered but that people will tell their friends about and share it online.
Fallon London is an agency that has mastered the art of creating witty and simple advertisements. Take their ad for the Natural Confectionery Company, it simply features sweets having a conversation. There is no animation whatsoever, just close up shots of sweets on table-tops, but the writing and the voicing are so deadpan and funny, they are very rewatchable.
Of course, this quirky approach may suit the brand in this case, however, this may not suit other brands. That’s ok, because part of the advantages of storytelling in commercials is the opportunity to show the brand’s personality, and what it stands for.
Chanel wants to be associated with style and beauty. Therefore, the stories they tell in their commercials are usually lush, filmed in a classical Hollywood style, often starring a famous star. Dove, on the other, wishes to project the message that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and to embrace your natural beauty. Their ads, therefore, feel very naturalistic and sincere and it helps attract everyday women. Brands may even want adverts that tell their own stories, and how they started.
(For more about Brand Story, read this article)
One of the most effective storytelling techniques in commercials is to create recurring characters. Hopefully, the characters will prove to be very likeable, and audiences will become attached to them. One of the most successful examples of this is ‘Compare the Meerkat’ ads series, created for comparethemarket.com, which features a Russian-accented Meerkat.
The character became so popular, it led to a huge boost for the company, with big sales on merchandise and even a series of children’s books being published. When kids are quoting a car insurance ad in the playground, you know the ad agency did something right. As to why the Meerkat has a Russian accent, well, that’s just one of life’s great mysteries…
The development of technology in recent years has led to advertisements becoming increasingly cinematic. At the same time, online distribution has made the need to contain30-second long stories within a 30-second time frame less necessary. It isn’t uncommon now for companies to release short films as commercials. If done well, these generate huge interest and publicity and are widely shared. Sainsbury’s recent ‘1914’ commercial is one example. It is a heartfelt telling of the famous football match that took place between the British and German soldiers one Christmas day during World War 1, a rare moment of peace in the middle of the suffering.
The critically acclaimed advert ended up getting over 19 million views on Youtube. Sainsbury’s decision to tell a historical story with a strong message, rather than promoting their products, displays them a conscientious company.
Storytelling is one of the most effective methods of capturing an audience’s attention and creating memorable adverts. By moving us, warming our heart, or making us laugh, these types of ads make the companies they promote more likeable. That way, the message they are trying to convey is far more powerful.
So if you’re in doubt as to whether stories are the way to go, you can paraphrase our favourite amnesiac fish: “Just keep telling, just keep telling…”
Would you like us to tell your company story? Send us a message and find out how we can help you!