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Where's The Story

by Doug Davidoff | Feb 8, 2010 4:46:37 AM

Once a year, people sit down to watch television and they're (almost) as interested in the ads as the show.  That time, of course, is the Super Bowl.  As I watched the game and rooted for the Saints, I was struck by three things.

    • First, I was struck by how virtually everyone who wasn't a Colts fan was rooting for the Saints.  Yesterday, they truly were America's team.

    • Second, I was struck by just how boring and useless the ads were - again.

    • Third, it hit me just how much these two things have in common.

Why did so many root for the Saints?  They have a compelling story.  From the recovery of New Orleans, to the comeback of Drew Brees, to the characters on the team.  The Saints, simply put, were are a great story.

The ads - not so much.

It's unfortunate, because it hasn't always been this way.  Three years ago, I asked if your company would make a good TV show.  Last year, I wrote about the importance of a powerful back story.  There was a time that commercials did an excellent job of this.  In 30 seconds, a great commercial told a compelling story that enticed and engaged its audience.  Today, it seems as though commercials are trying to catch lightening in a bottle in the form of a catchphrase, rather than engaging the audience with a story.

To see the difference in commercials compare one of yesterday's most popular commercials with a famous commercial from the 1980s.

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Notice that while the commercial is funny, it doesn't really tell a story. As a result, people may remember the punch line (Don't touch my mama or my Doritos), but it's highly unlikely they'll remember the product (even though the product is part of the punch line).

Now look at this famous Federal Express commercial:

The Doritos ad has far greater production value, and I think we'd all agree that the Federal Express commercial is far more memorable - and impactful.  Why?  Because it tells a powerful story.

If you want people to notice you, stop focusing on features and start telling stories.  What do you think?  What's your story?