REINVENTING STORYTELLING – A LOOK INTO THE CHANGES IN CREATIVE COMMUNICATION

REINVENTING STORYTELLING – A LOOK INTO THE CHANGES IN CREATIVE COMMUNICATION

August 13, 2018

Written by Farhat Chowdhury

Proper, tailored communication has always been the bedrock to a brand’s success. Throughout the ages, brands have been on a never-ending conquest of crafting the perfect narratives catered to their audience and capturing their imagination. It’s not just about preaching to the mass and increasing the sales numbers. Rather, a form of storytelling is also acutely involved; ensuring that the brand is constantly nurtured in the minds of the customer and that he/she can relate to it in every possible way. With the progress of time, there has been an exponential change in the various mediums that brands use to communicate with their target audience. A few decades ago, billboards, television, print ads and the radio were communication behemoths – all providing gateways to tap into a consumer’s locus of attention and garner sales or brand recall. With the advent of internet, the entire methodology has evolved and morphed into a two-way communication channel; with brands telling a story and its dedicated consumers reciprocating it. Furthermore, audiences now even get to add their own narratives into the brand’s story, inserting their own imagination to it – giving rise to user generated brand contents. Technology intertwined with the behavioral changes of today’s demographics have brought about a silent revolution in how brands communicate today. Let’s dive deep into an ocean of the new era of storytelling.

Following are a few case studies that depict how new methods or approaches have been implemented in communicating the creative ideas behind brands.

BURGER KING INSTAWHOPPER

This campaign was run by Burger King Spain; developed by the agency LOLA MullenLowe. The brand created nine stories, one for each of the traditional Whopper ingredients. The 15-second segments of each story featured a fun, cheeky poll that invited users to pick their favorite toppings. Once the polls were completed, they generated a unique coupon (sent through DM) for fans to redeem at a Spanish Burger King location of their choice for their free, customized Whopper. The goal was to increase engagement on Instagram and to remind consumers that, on any platform, Burger King wants you to have it your way.

Within hours—and without any paid media—the campaign had 270,000 interactions with 45,113 unique users engaging and 34,675 custom Whopper coupons created in under three hours. The data from all the polls was compiled and analyzed, gathering the most popular Whopper ingredients. Those results created the InstaWhopper, a double patty with cheese (selected by 90 percent), bacon (84 percent), ketchup (81 percent), mayo (76 percent), lettuce (75 percent), onion (57 percent) and tomato (57 percent). The InstaWhopper was made available in every Burger King across Spain for a limited time. This surely portrays how brands are utilizing the DM (Direct Messaging) feature of Instagram rather than banner ads to create meaningful conversations with the customers, as well as increasing sales through the process.

KFC-MCDONALD’S-BURGER KING – THE TWITTER TRIO

This hilarious three-way communication took place in India a few months back. With brands drastically increasing their presence on social media, it’s about time the brands lift their veil of cut-throat competition and engage in harmless disputes; making it a must-watch, must-follow event for their vivid fans. That is exactly what happened between these three fast food giants in India. Author Thomas Baekdal would have never imagined that he would cook up a global storm when he pointed out the difference in the burger emojis offered by Apple and Google. As Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai responded, the fight spread far and wide. KFC India took immediate advantage of this global debate first by responding to Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai. Soon enough, McDonald’s India followed suit with a version of its own. While the interest was still brewing, KFC India lost no time in taking a potshot at its archrival. The hilarious ‘bun-puns’ continued until Burger King intervened and had the last laugh.

BILLBOARD WITH TWO MESSAGES FOR TWO DIFFERENT AUDIENCES

We all know that some messages might have different messages targeted towards different audiences. But the challenge is how do you tweak a ‘stationary’ billboard to portray double messages, that too, without integrating complex electronic devices into it? That is exactly what has been achieved by international nonprofit Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk (ANAR). Using a technology known as lenticular printing, they designed an ad that contains a “secret message” that is only visible from the POV of children (~4’4″). To adults, the billboard will contain the simple, yet powerful message, “Sometimes child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it.” However, children will instead see the far more useful instruction, “If somebody hurts you, phone us and we’ll help you,” along with the foundation’s phone number. The image on the poster will also change: While adults will see a normal looking boy, children will instead see a bruised-up child with whom they might identify. “It’s been a very pleasant surprise,” ANAR’s director in Spain, Tomás Lagunas, reported. “We’ve never made use of media campaigns to reach out specifically to children before but on the first day the billboards went up we had 30 calls from kids who had seen it.” The innovative posters went up in several cities in Europe and has featured prominently on international media and social networking sites like the BBC, Daily Mail, Facebook and Twitter.

FIGHTING FOR LGBT RIGHTS, THROUGH BRANDS

With the world advancing at a breakneck speed, there has been major changes in the demographics throughout the world. People belonging to the transgender and homosexual community are no longer secluded; rather they have come out and are now fighting to get the rights that they have already deserved. Now the biggest challenge for an established brand like Coca-Cola was interlinking such a massive revolution into its brand’s story; and thus resonating with the millions of unheard voices all across the globe. The obstacles were tantamount as well. The world is full of homophobic expressions such as “He plays for the other team” or “He is a pillow bitter”. In Brazil, one of the most famous expressions is “Essa Coca é Fanta” which in English means: “That Coke is a Fanta”. For years, this expression was used to make fun of the LGBT+ community in the country. Hundreds of pejorative memes were created and even songs, all with the discriminatory intentions. This is no light joke in a country with a terrible record on homophobic crimes. In support to international LGBT+ pride day, Coca-Cola designed a limited edition can. A red Coke can with orange Fanta inside, featuring the message: “That Coke is a Fanta. So what?” A special can that ignores labels, challenges prejudice and empowers people. Showing that there’s nothing wrong about a Coke being a Fanta. The iconic cans carrying this simple message were intentionally designed to become a statement for the fight against prejudice. With Coca-Cola owning both brands, the company had the best-case scenario. By the end they had the final product, a Coke with Fanta inside. What started as a can design quickly became a symbol, taking over social media, then being a huge success at the Brazilian Carnival, with people making their own DIY Coke/Fanta bottles and even costumes. The results were pretty impressive as well; ranging from having 1 Billion media impressions for a local market idea, with 0 U$ media spent to becoming the biggest search on Google history for the term. Thus, with a witty spin in the creative communication process, Coca-Cola changed a Homophobic expression into an empowering statement.

THE TRASH ISLES CAMPAIGN

While many of us think that brands communicate with their target audiences to increase their revenue, there has been many cases where the brands stand tall to fit or create awareness for a much higher cause. One such phenomenal example is the Cannes Lions winning Trash Isles campaign done for LADbible and Plastic Oceans Foundation. Designed and implemented by AMV BBDO, this exciting, yet serious campaign snatched two Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Lions; one for PR and the other one for Design. LADbible came to AMV BBDO with the brief for Plastic Oceans last year, aiming to raise awareness among a younger generation about the plastic pollution issue in the oceans. All the facts painted a dire picture; one statistic showed that unless action was taken, there would be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050. The campaign Trash Isles had a relatively simple objective – to empower young people to lobby the United Nations to acknowledge the plastic in the oceans as a country, in order to force the issue to be addressed. Plastic Oceans and LADbible submitted Trash Isles’ country application to the UN on World Oceans Day 2017. According to the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, there are four requirements to become an official state. Trash Isles met all of them. First, define a territory. The campaign claimed all the plastic in the North Pacific Ocean as theirs. Second, form a government. Trash Isles established a monarchy and appointed Dame Judi Dench as queen. Third, be able to communicate with other states. The PR, social media, advertising and online content of the campaign covered this off. Finally, establish citizens. This is how the campaign brought in members of the public, by asking people to become citizens and sign a Change.org petition urging the UN to recognize Trash Isles as an official country. The results of the campaign far exceeded expectations. Trash Isles signed up almost a quarter of a million citizens, 100,000 of those just in the first week, and it is now bigger than the population of Samoa. Former US vice-president Al Gore was the first honorary citizen of Trash Isles, and American professional wrestler and actor John Cena offered to be the minister of defense. The campaign reached half a billion people, and search volumes on Google for the term ‘plastic pollution’ went up +154% in the nine months after launch versus the nine months before. So this clearly shows, how brands and companies have moved far away from just making TVCs or social media content. They are embracing the unknown, going far beyond the traditional roadmaps of communication and are creating discussion pathways that certainly leads to conversions in the long run.

AIRTEL BANGLADESH BOOMERANG ADS

Now let’s look at a trending Bangladeshi example. This ad series has been widely broadcasted all throughout the latest FIFA World Cup. Airtel, being the youth-driven brand it is, wanted to come up with obvious flexible packages for their users. But the magic lied in the execution of the ad. Rather than an intriguing motion-based video, they adopted something that resembled the Boomerang app, which showed the youth models doing certain things and then reversing it – thus creating a loop. While the app has become extremely popular, ads like this has never been seen before by the general consumers of Bangladesh. With utmost simplicity, this series clearly portrays how even a trending app can change the way TVCs are made to a certain extent.

Putting Bangladesh into the perspective of the change in creative communication, it can be said that the developments are already taking place; but the holistic shift will take a few more years to realize. Customers in general are becoming more tech-savvy and are being more vocal on social media, enabling brands to fine tune their methods of communication on the frontlines of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. However, in order to ensure that we come up with radical communication revolutions like the examples stated above, brand managers and creative professional all need to work in unison to craft unconventional approaches of working on a brand’s narrative. Yes, the cost-benefit analysis will still be omnipresent and the constant fear of the brand steering too far away from its core elements will still be there. However, at the end of the day, it’s all about taking the leap of faith. You never know unless you try. That is what defies convention; and might bring forth the Renaissance of Creative Communication in Bangladesh. 

Feature artwork: Storytelling, Nazia Andaleeb Preema, Oil on Canvas, 2016

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