Have you ever seen a marketing campaign so good that you still think about it months later? I sat down to brainstorm ideas for this week’s blog post, and an out-of-home campaign I saw back in October 2020 would not get out of my head.
Those who know me are aware that I’m a sucker for an independent bookstore. I love places that have limited shelf space and carefully curated selections. I love a sensible bookstore cat, napping in the sun-drenched storefront window. I love when you can go in and say, “I want to buy a book for my dad. He’s into 1950s movies,” and the person behind the counter can disappear among the shelves and come back with five incredible options in hand, lightning-fast.
Those who know me have also likely heard my thoughts on a certain online mega-retailer, known for eating into the profits of these independent bookstores that often can’t compete with two-day shipping and an unlimited selection.
So I will admit, I am the target demographic for this campaign, one million percent.
A Lesson in the Power of Change
The focus of our COVID talk has shifted to the viral mutations sprouting up around the world. From South Africa and the UK to California and Brazil, variants are making headlines.
The appearance of mutations is not surprising. Viruses are replicating machines—literally, they’re not even technically alive—and with every replication comes the possibility of mutation.
Because it’s not sentient, the virus isn’t looking to become more potent or transmissible, it just happens sometimes. Advantageous mistakes that result from replication are selected for; this concept of natural selection also underpins the Darwinian theory of evolution.
And while the virus can’t think, I would argue that those of us who are capable of reasoning have something to learn here. Goodness knows the virus has caused many hardships and horrors for humankind; all opportunities to find a positive learning are worth pursuing.
Netflix released series 11 of The Great British Baking Show in September 2020. It popped up on my home screen, and I was excited to dive in. After a challenging, isolating six months, I was looking forward to a cheery escape into the cozy, familiar baking tent.
I sat down one evening, ready to devour two-thirds of the season in one go, only to find that they were releasing the new season one episode at a time. What was this, 1998?!
Like many other viewers, I have grown so accustomed to the Netflix binge over the past decade or so that I had frankly forgotten we used to live another way. And I found it so odd that Netflix, the disruptor in the television space that had turned us all onto the binge in the first place, was now taking us back to the pre-streaming stone ages with a weekly drip of episodes.
So it got me thinking, if Netflix is doing it, there has to be a solid business case for it. Is there something to be said for reintroducing anticipation back into our lives? And how can marketers use anticipation to strengthen a brand’s messaging?
Many marketers (myself included) talk quite a bit about storytelling. We say it empowers you to connect with your audience, and it’s the key to building deep, lasting relationships with them.
But the word storytelling is broad and, in my humble opinion, often misunderstood in a marketing context.
When I talk about brand storytelling, I’m not talking about telling the story of your brand. Counterintuitive, non? But there's a reason for that. Frankly, your audience doesn’t need your whole life story.
Aristotle was a busy guy who was passionate about many things, but his love of theater and storytelling was noteworthy. He is considered the first theoretician of theater, and his Poetics offers a framework for understanding theatrical storytelling.
In Poetics, Aristotle outlines the six key elements of tragedy: plot, character, thought, diction, melody, and spectacle.
Aristotle’s elements of tragedy continue to influence storytelling today. And by examining the aspects Aristotle identified as critical in crafting a compelling drama, modern marketers might unearth new, creative ways of sharing their brands’ stories.
Let’s walk through the six elements and consider how they come into play in a modern marketing context.