Food for Thought

The Power of Storytelling in Advertising: Part 1

  • wonderhatch
  • Nov 15, 2019

Facts tell, stories sell: Why all brands should be using storytelling in their advertising. 

It’s something we’re privy to as an advertising agency: brands seeking show-stopping visuals to sell their product, but pretty much stopping at that.

We know your product is precious. It’s your baby. It’s amazing. Really, it sells itself.

But not everybody feels that way about it. Not yet, anyway.

In focussing too much on the facts – on the ‘what’ and ‘how’ – you risk glazing over the ‘why’.

The ‘why’ the facts matter and ‘why’ your target market should care about them.

The ‘why’ is the story behind your product or brand. The story that an audience will remember and relate to. The story that will sell.

Sure, we can capture your product from the perfect angle and in the best possible light, if that’s what you want. But pretty pictures just aren’t enough to cut it nowadays.

Storytelling is key to effective advertising. If you want to grow your business, it’s an art you’re going to have to master – or else hire someone to master it for you – so check out why and how to use it in your next campaign.

The importance of storytelling in advertising

While business dictates that we remain pragmatic and factual, let’s face it, we are not computers. We’re emotional beings who respond to emotional triggers.

Look at the film industry, for example. An actor isn’t esteemed due to their ability to recite lines, but due to the emotion with which they’re delivered. On top of that, it’s the characters with rich, complex stories whom we really care about and remember.

Translate this into advertising: if an audience likes and relates to the character or story in your campaign, that then becomes the vehicle to selling your product.

Speaking of vehicles, take a look at Audi’s T-Rex ad:

The story is simple: he’s a dinosaur struggling to get anything done due to the length of his arms. Humiliated and down-trodden, he stumbles upon an Audi which brings him back to life.

The use of narrative storytelling makes us feel sorry for poor Dino. We want him to be okay and, as a result, want the thing that makes him okay: the car.

I’m trying to imagine the reaction of the board of stakeholders at Audi when a crazed advertiser came in and said “Here’s an idea: let’s make an ad about a depressed dinosaur!”

Maybe they were open-minded, but you could imagine some scepticism. What on earth has a dinosaur got to do with a car? Not to mention mental health?

Well, pretty much nothing and yet, at the same time, everything.

When we see storytelling in advertising, the product is secondary, so you can see why brands might hesitate.

We don’t see the car itself until the very end of the ad, nor learn about all the snazzy specs. Why? Because we don’t need to. We’re already hooked.

The most important thing is getting a reaction from an audience. The second we feel something is the second we care.

Think of your product as an important message you need to send out to the world. A story is simply a form of communicating this message in a specific and emotional way. Be it to a theatre audience, a child falling asleep or your target market, a message is simply more engaging when communicated in story form.

Narrative advertising is more memorable 

A little task for you: watch the two ads below…

Which one is more memorable? Which one are you more likely to share on social or with friends?

These are both ads about a fast-food product, the difference being that one is using facts to validate the point, whilst in the other the story is the point. That’s the campaign that resonates more and sets itself apart from its competition. That’s the campaign that uses storytelling marketing. And uses it jolly well!

If you want to get creative with some visual storytelling in your next advertising campaign and make your product come to life, get in touch with a visual advertising company who are well versed in the art of storytelling and stay tuned for Part 2 of The Power of Storytelling in Advertising.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get some nacho cheese fries…