Storytelling and the best campaigns of 2016

Written by Jason Groom
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Originally published
December 7 2016,
September 26 2020
If you read Dave Trott’s Campaign blog, like me you’re probably a big fan. I was thrilled to meet him recently at an event and to hear him speak. In person, as on his blog, he makes a lot of sense as well as being thoroughly entertaining. Two things in particular that he said struck a chord. One, “advertising isn’t marketing, it’s the voice of marketing” and two, that all adverts need to satisfy three criteria - “to have impact, to communicate and to persuade”.

Those two pieces of wisdom came home to me again this week. With social media awash with future trends and “best of” articles (yep, it’s THAT time of year again), I clicked on Econsultancy’s “10 most shared video adverts of 2016”. There are some corkers in there and, less than 2 minutes in, I was crying like a baby. So what is it in these days of marketing clutter and bombardment that stops us in our tracks and moves us enough to share with our friends and across networks?

A lack of product focus

What all of the 10 have in common (apart from, of course, a sizeable budget and a top-notch agency behind them) is that the brand’s product or service appears only secondary to the story. In fact “7 Eleven Thailand: Teachers” which is almost 9 minutes long, doesn’t mention 7 Eleven itself until the final frame…and then it’s only a logo.


The entertainment factor

Aliens dancing to Europop (not based on a true story!) as per the Cadbury's Dairy Milk piece, had me tapping a toe, while Shell’s “Best Day of My Life”, featuring stars like Jennifer Hudson and Pixie Lott, is a full 3 minutes of good music. And who doesn’t need that in their life?


Sparking our curiosity

Intrigue as to what will happen next keeps us watching to the end in the zero-gravity antics of the OK Go & S7 Airlines “Upside Down and Inside Out” video. And who could guess how the ultrasound baby is going to react to his Doritos-eating daddy? Daz’s doorstep challenge was always WAY more predictable! 


An emotional response

You would have to have been living in a cave for the whole year not to have seen and been moved by the top two in this list. Channel 4’s “We Are The Superhumans” made us proud to be British but, much more importantly, is credited with changing perceptions of our Paralympic athletes. Fast forward to the festive season and Buster the Boxer and his trampolining shenanigans has clocked up just shy of 2 million shares…and it’s still going strong.

The inimitable Mr Trott was right. The impact and communication of all of these 10 is obvious. With sales of trampolines in the UK up 300% since #BustertheBoxer took up the sport, it appears the persuasion element in good advertising is now way more subtle than ever before. As Ian Forrester, Global VP of Insight at Unruly, says,

“Social video has dramatically evolved. Brands are adding emotional intelligence and great storytelling to digital advertising."

And we can’t get enough of it.


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