In a highly saturated media world where we’re constantly bombarded with sales messages and distractions, brands must step up their storytelling game to connect with consumers on both an authentic and emotional level, writes Natalie Merrix.
Once upon a time, our lives were relatively simple and slow paced. Now though, we’re busier than ever – or at least, it certainly feels that way. And because of that, we prioritise convenience and speed. At a time where we’re all becoming wiser and more selective in the media we consume, how can brands make us stop and listen?
Storytelling is at the core of any campaign and critical to success in today’s competitive market. Those doing it well recognise that the key to building a meaningful connection is to understand their audiences’ wants, needs and beliefs.
Here are some of our favourite recent storytelling campaigns:
I vividly remember the moment I arrived back at Birmingham International Airport after a long time abroad. Feeling exhausted after a long flight, carrying a backpack the same size as me, I walked through arrivals to see my parents smiling and waving. Despite a hint of sadness that my adventure was officially over, I was overcome with joy, happiness and relief to be back on solid ground and to see those warm, familiar faces.
Filmed in Copenhagen Airport’s arrivals hall, Scandinavian Airlines’ Christmas campaign, aptly named ‘The Arrivals’, captures exactly this moment. In a nod to that iconic Love Actually scene, the ad opens with friends and families waiting anxiously for their loved ones outside arrivals and then finally being reunited.
At this time of year when thoughts turn to Christmas and enjoying special moments with those closest to us, this campaign certainly tugs on both the heart and purse strings of festive travellers.
This fast food chain recently hit headlines by seemingly criticising its own chips. The clever marketing move allegedly came about in response to customers on social media complaining about KFC’s soggy cold fries. Instead of trying to defend itself or ignoring the issue completely, KFC took this opportunity as a clever way to launch its new chips recipe. The brand put budget towards promoting critical social media posts and even created outdoor ads featuring wording from some of the most cutting customer tweets.
Rather than reaching out to its target audience with a simple ‘new recipe’ message which would have most likely fallen on deaf ears, KFC used humour and social media combined with traditional outdoor media, to get its customers to take notice of an otherwise potentially dull news story.
No one does it quite like Lurpak when it comes to advertising. Famed for its highly visual campaigns, Lurpak is one brand that knows how to tell a story in a stunning way.
Recently, it launched its Softest range in response to consumer research which suggested that 92% of people spread their butter straight from the fridge. The brand recognised the issue of ‘spreadability’ with its existing product and knew it was a barrier to purchase.
In true Lurpak style, the advert was a work of art. Unlike previous campaigns which made food the sole focus and would encourage patience when cooking, this ad follows a young woman getting ready for work in a hurry while trying to enjoy a coffee and make her lunch. Ending with the woman having to turn up her sleeve to hide a tomato stain on her white shirt, the ad is relatable as it is beautiful and resonates with all of us who just want our weekday mornings to go as smoothly as possible.
Over the years, retailers’ Christmas campaigns have been getting increasingly extravagant, with multi-million pound budgets behind adverts that sometimes miss the mark when it comes to storytelling.
This year, Sainsburys has taken the decision to go back to basics with its heart-warming campaign – The Big Night. The advert tells the story of a young child nervously singing solo in her school Christmas play but suddenly finding renewed confidence to give an incredible performance when she sees her mother giving her an encouraging nod from the audience.
With the tag line, ‘we give all we can for the ones we love’, the advert captures the true emotion of Christmas, and is incredibly relatable for those of us who either remember being terrified in our school plays or have witnessed our own kids in this nerve-racking position.
Like these brands have demonstrated, storytelling doesn’t have to be complex but it does have to be authentic and capture emotion to really resonate among the modern-day noise.
Writing in The Times earlier this year, columnist and former sportsman Matthew Syed summarised nicely: “We make sense of the world through narrative, through stories, through the way objects and events connect with our aspiration and anxieties” and that’s “when a story reaches our hearts, it takes hold of us”.