rethinking the commercial


Fellow voice over talent Roy Bunales introduced me to something on his Facebook page that I thought was very interesting. It was a video that I guess has been around for over a year and has had close to 2 million views. The video is below, it’s four minutes long and I’d like you to STOP reading now watch it and then return back here for a second for a brief discussion below the video.

Let me ask you honestly…did you see that ending coming? I didn’t see it coming but on Roy’s feed, their was no title. If you were watching on TV, you wouldn’t have seen that coming either.

What a story.

Were you bothered by the length? I wasn’t at all, I was engaged, yet its payoff very much made it a commercial.

What a story.

And that’s the message for you today: story.

We went through a time and place where if an image was on a screen for a half second, that was too long. Then it couldn’t be just one image, it had to be multiple images.

Now we are an audience in throes of on-going sensory overload. We tune out advertising more than we tune in.

How, then, do you make an actual impression in the viewer or listener’s mind: story.

Share a story (not tell).

Offer a message (not promote).

Develop a relationship (don’t talk down).

Create a community (not build an audience).

It will resonate with the viewer and they will bond with the message, the product or service. I will not soon forget this brand…nor will you I think.

Not all stories are great but a great story will fill an enormous void. When was the last time your advertising or marketing shared a story? Funny or dramatic?

What’s your reaction to this? Am I being unrealistic? Or did this message find you more deeply engaged than most advertising?

P.S. So a bit after I published this, I came across the following video that I think illustrates my point even more…by helping shift the way consumers might think about a company…German engineering made “fun”.

3 Responses to “rethinking the commercial”

  1. This blog post underscores what Don Hewitt told the correspondents on “60 Minutes” and every other aspiring journalist who asked his advice during his legendary career. There are just four words that tell you what to do, Hewitt would say.

    “Tell me a story.”

    That’s it. Forget the hard sell, forget pontificating. Just “tell me a story.”

    It works. You proved it here. Thanks for a great post!

    Steve “@PodcastSteve” Lubetkin, APR, Fellow, PRSA
    Managing Partner, Professional Podcasts LLC
    Senior Fellow, Society for New Communications Research

  2. I hadn’t seen the Pantene one, and even though the ending was a bit predictable, I cried through the whole thing, Kudos to them to basically condense a feature film into 4 minutes.

    This kind of advertising is very “21st century”– people are exhausted from being sold to all the time. But everyone hungers for story. That was a bolder and more memorable choice than if they had just sold to us for :30.

  3. Hi Steve,

    Thanks very much for your insight and kind words. A lot could be said (good and bad) about Don Hewitt but he was a great story teller.

    Hi Amy,

    I like your phrase “more memorable choice” because it was exactly that. But you’ve got to stop crying in front of your computer – the computer is starting to get its feeling hurt – it thinks its doing something wrong! 😉

    Best always to you both,
    – Peter