Story is everywhere.
It’s in the movies we see.
It’s in our conversations when someone asks: How was your day?
It’s even in our sales presentations when we tell the “story” of how the house we’re showing came on the market or how a xerox machine saved the careers of the last office staff that used it.
Stories are about transformation: Someone starts out one way and ends up another. And when told well, using that simple dynamic can communicate an idea that hits us on a very primal level.
One of the best places to see this in action is in commercials.
The fabled “story spot,” those 10 to 60 second TV ads, have been around forever. They compress story to its bare bones. One of my recent favorites is a one-minute United Airlines spot done with stop motion art about a father leaving his sleeping son to go off to a business meeting that quickly becomes an adventure fantasy involving fire-breathing dragons. That commercial is magic to me — and primal. But just like the movies we write — with beginnings, middles and ends, good guys and bad guys, and a final resolution — effective commercials must have these same elements.
I asked Merry Carole Powers, brilliant Chicago copywriter and screenwriter, to keep an eye out for some of her favorite story spots and she sent me a link to a fabulous and very silly one — a great example of what I’m talking about. This is a commercial called “The Tooth Fairy,” a simple tale whose punchline is : It’s an ad for a men’s cologne. Take a look here:
(Merry is also the inventor of the “portable board” that we will make available soon on this site. It’s a fantastic little item for Cat!-ites who have their extra large cork boards on their walls at home and might like to go mobile once in a while.)
What are your favorite “story spots”? One thing is certain, now that we’ve opened up the discussion, you’ll be looking at all stories — be they in conversation, at the movies, or in commercials — in a whole new way.
Story is everywhere! Story is our life!