Isn’t there a lot of talk about storytelling these days? Marketing gurus stress its importance. Apparently, 80% of UK adults want brands to tell stories as part of their marketing. There are now annual surveys of the Best Storytelling Brands. And a recent forecast on Campaign Live, The Year Ahead in Creativity, predicted that, once again, ‘the best story wins’.
So what’s new? Brand advertising and DM copywriters like me have been telling stories for decades. All the best commercials have a narrative structure. Many are like a good joke: an intriguing story followed by a surprise ending.
What seems to be driving the talk about storytelling is the proliferation of online content. We are all overwhelmed with information. And the best way to stand out in this sea of content, and interest your audience, is to weave your facts and figures into stories – narratives that involve people, contain drama, and touch emotions.
Shinola: a fascinating story in a rather dull sector
Some friends of mine are preparing to launch a clothes brand, and they want to make their start-up story the best it can be. So I recommended they study a company that’s done a great job telling theirs: a watch manufacturer called Shinola. Now, there are quite a few watch brands, aren’t there? And unless you’re a real horophile, they tend to blur into one big mess. There are exceptions, such as Rolex, which runs all those ads about famous rich people who own one. And Patek Philippe, which has a long-running and, in my view, excellent campaign about its watches being heirlooms that are passed down through families. Also, last year Apple launched its watch, which is fundamentally different from traditional watches that just tell the time. By and large though, not many watch brands left an impression in my mind until I heard about Shinola.
In essence, Shinola’s story is this: a mechanical watch made in Detroit. Now, there’s something that stops you and makes you think. Detroit is, of course, famous as the city that used to be America’s car-making capital, Motor Town, but went into seemingly terminal decline. In recent years, we’ve heard of attempts to revive the city. Still, Detroit isn’t a place you’d expect watches to be made. Which makes Shinola interesting. It draws you in to find out more.
Watch Shinola’s inspiring story below:
Now you can understand why President Obama was proudly showing off his Shinola watch to reporters last week – in itself another fascinating story: