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Advertising is storytelling: Contagious & Leo Burnett’s Wildfire advice

25-June-2009
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Advertising is storytelling: Contagious & Leo Burnett’s Wildfire advice

The team comprising Contagious magazine and Leo Burnett that holds the Wildfire seminars at Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival every year delved in the art of storytelling this year at Cannes. The team listed town the seven basic plots, and how advertising agencies can work around it for ads that connect with consumers. The panel discussing the subject were Paul Kemp-Robertson, Editorial Director, Co-Founder, Contagious; Kevin Flatt, EVP, ECD – Digital Practice, Leo Burnett, Arc USA and Marc Guisti, Group Chief Digital Officer, Leo Burnett UK.

Guisti observed, “Simple or elaborate ad always tells a great story. If tapped into aptly, this can add to various forms of communication.”

The panel began from 32,000 years and graffiti and street art were used to communicate emotions and mindsets then. They even spoke about 1000 BC and of Chinese thinker Confucius whose thoughts were relevant to brands today. Giving one example, Paul said, “‘A journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step’. You think a bit more, and you see it in Nike, ‘Just do it!’”

After citing a few more of these witty examples that warmed up the audience to the subject they have otherwise heard enough on, the team even drew comparisons to modern day equivalents of the communication forms of yesterday. These ranged from Greek chorus bands that equated to Twitter to mass communication and Amazon. They spoke on the way Wall Street crash was reported 1929 and then on the Huffington Post in 2008.

Having established the new forms available today like GPS and opportunities for branded applications that allowed a difference in storytelling, the panel got down to the seven basic plots of storytelling, and how this could apply to advertising. The first of these was Comedy, and the ‘Comparethemeerkat.com’ campaign for comparethemarket.com was cited here. The next was Tragedy. Stressing on how the most compelling heroes always had a tragic baggage, the campaign from Warner Bros for Dark Knight Movie was cited here.

The third plot was Overcoming the monster, and this was illustrated by the Doritos slow dancing campaign. Sagami Condoms were cited for the fourth story plot of Voyage and Return. The fifth plot was Quest, that was triumph over adversity and the Adidas F50i shoes campaign was discussed here.

The sixth plot was Rags to riches, and the sharing the billboard space campaign done for James Ready was discussed here. The final plot was Rebirth.

Finally the panel stated that brands with best stories get to play long time roles.

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