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Start with Sharpie: A story about telling stories

Category : Commercial Codes in English

Stories, stories, stories… That is the advertising trend of 2012. We can read almost everywhere essays about the importance of storytelling and how to do it.

Stories are all around us: on ads, presentations, digital platforms… But what exactly is storytelling and how can we write it; where should we begin?

The ad of Sharpie that we’ll look at this week seems to shed a light to all these questions.

“We don’t sell a nail; we sell a hole where you can hang the pictures of your loved ones.”

I believe a teacher of mine said this sentence while I was studying Advertising, I don’t remember who said it originally. But its message is as clear today as it was that day. It underlines the very essence of advertising and marketing communication: we do not sell the product but the benefit. I think the essence of writing good stories also lays in defining what you sell very clearly.

Man is actually a simple creature; its desires are very evident. Though the products and services become increasingly diverse and sophisticated, the essence stays the same.

We all have fundamental motives: to love, be loved, belong, be strong, be liked, be safe, be protected, be sheltered, find our identity etc.

Actually these fundamental motives are the last stop where all our stories reach, thereby where all the product and services answer. When we buy bleach, we actually buy inner peace, instead of “hygiene”, our car represents our status and charisma, we buy our mobile phone in order to emphasize our identity and character, maybe to show our belonging to a certain group etc.

If you want to build good brand stories you have to find the most basic motive your product answers. In other words, catching insights that go beyond the benefit of the product should be the primary objective of marketing and communication professionals.

Our example, Sharpie starts working with this apprehension. Though there are many other ‘direct’ ways of making a pen commercial, Sharpie has caught the fundamental motivation that the product answer very good, by deep investigation. They defined this motivation as ‘achieving one’s dreams’. In other words, Sharpie pens positions itself on the famous Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs Pyramid on top, namely ‘self actualization’.

After making this evaluation and determining the fundamental motive, there comes the theme of your story. But the secret of writing a good story lies in details…

First issue is depth: The remoter the point you start from the end point, the better is the dramatic effect and depth of the described challenge. This way you can deliver your message to your audience’s not only cognitive mind, but also deep enough to influence their emotional intelligence and leave an imprint.

That’s exactly the case in Sharpie example. The ad isn’t based on the realization of dreams of a young American boy. The reason for that is, American or Western youth, whose motto is already achieving their dreams, wouldn’t provide an impressive enough challenge for our story.

It can also be said that in that case what Sharpie was saying would be like the writing on the water. But our young man is from Malaysia, which has far more big issues even like survival and where chasing your dreams is rather a luxurious act. So his story, his process of self-realization offers a more deep and influential (inspiring) story.

Second issue is sincerity and credibility: Yes, the efforts you make should worth the outcome but you shouldn’t expect to change the world with a single ad. Beside the right depth, right dramatic dosage it is also very important for sincere penetration of the story.

For example, Sharpie ad tells us the story of our hero’s drawings on paper cups. But they do not tell that our hero earns a living through this act. On the contrary, he does this in order to feel happy and even if it has a financial contribution, it isn’t important enough to mention in the ad.

The reason for that is, if he was portrayed as earning his life by selling these paper cups, the audience will give reactions like, “C’mon, are you kidding me?”

No one would believe the rubbish that the guy can earn a living by making drawings on paper cups with a pen, no one can see himself in such a story and no one takes life that lightly.

Furthermore, if the ad was shot that way, Sharpie pens would have embarked a way below its head mission and made an over-promise. And that would make their ad too much “commercial” an a lot less credible. So another important point in building up the story is to have the right aim and proportions.

Third issue is continuity and right amount of ambiguity: The ad does not finish the story; our hero starts his world tour with his pens and paper cups.

So it gives space to its audience for developing the story further and dream about what’s to come. It doesn’t matter if the consumer would actually dream about it or not, the important point is that the ad leaves space for it. That leads the story to stay alive. And that makes the ad, something beyond an ad; makes it a human story.

In short, the trick to build up a good story is not only to know your product or service, but also know human beings. And I guess it starts with knowing our own story. So we should read our fundamental motives in life and the experiences we get along the way right. And then, you have a story worth telling in your hands.

Oto Aygaz: It is always about performance. But how?

Category : Commercial Codes in English

Hello folks.

This week’s example from my hometown, Turkey…

Before we start, here some background information. Turkey has the most expensive oil prices in the World. Therefore LPG (Liquid Petrol Gas) converted automobiles are a valid and widespread alternative.

However when it comes to LPG converted vehicles, performance is always a question. Thus LPG converted cars mainly considered for commercial use, namely for taxies. That’s because the clear economical advantage of LPG cars always surpass performance disadvantage when it comes to commercial use.

However in personal use, the competitive set and imagery is completely different.
While LPG converted cars image is relatively poor and obviously less status oriented compare to regular gas based alternatives, its performance issues also another big barrier. So how you tackle all these barriers into a single TV copy?

This week’s example, Oto Aygaz deals with that question.


Slogan: “Extra perfomance, in extra cold!”

Fuel and tires are low involvement products. This is a well-known global fact. It also means very low attention span and possibly low engagement value when it comes to advertising and specifically TV copies.

Throughout the years advertisers has been relying on performance shots, extreme angles and other cues such as music etc. to deal with that phenomena.

However this solution had a one big side effect which is losing insight and hence losing of relevance.

When a fuel of tire copy relies on extreme shots and driving skills to demonstrate performance it also means that most of the time you are relying on “wide angle shots” as well. This means your copy will no longer have any differentiation from the whole automotive world and 90% of the automobile copies. This fact also valid from brand personality perspective too…

In that cases you probably end up with having a nice corporate film or trade show demonstration film rather than consumer oriented TV commercial. It is an expensive way of impressing competitors and definitely waste of money.

I am not denying the importance of performance shots and driving skills to deliver performance perception. All I am saying it is not enough to differentiate and build your brand. You also need an insight platform to build your brand on top of it and make your product relevant.

OtoAygaz TVC seems it found a way to deliver all of these issues in a single copy.

It is also good example to underline the difference between “literal” and “lateral” thinking.

So your client brief is simple to “deliver performance in winter”. But how? When you take this literally you most probably end up with shitty creative work.

But if you think about on performance “laterally” and laddering it up, you will probably see its equivalent in your local culture and in your specific target audience. In Turkey case it is the notion and idiom of “getting carried away \ gaza gelmek”. When you have a good vehicle under your command you eventually get carried away and want to demonstrate your performance and driving skills as a sign of your competence and maybe masculinity. Ok. Now we found relevant angle on performance in target audience’s life.

But it is not enough how we are going to bring it into our ordinary consumer’s everyday life in a relevant and aspiring way? After all he is not a Michael Schumacher. ..

This is where you dig your target audience demographics and psychographics deeper.

You should have already seen from the data that he is a father. The question is what kind of father does he want to be? A passive and boring father or a friendly and cool father…Off course the answer is second one. So as a cool father he probably wants to be a friendly figure. This means being a “bigger boy” but still being a boy, a gang leader, a friend.

And boys, like the men do also want to demonstrate performance and test their limits. In their world, this phenomenon called as “being naughty”. And other fact is boys always be the boys even if they become a father.

“Naughtiness” is your common denominator between fathers and sons. It is the attitudinal equivalent of performance. Now you have a common framework.

All you have to do is inserting winter in it. So what is better than a snowball fight deliver all those :)

Now you have a single TVC which portrays a cool father figure and performance of your product in everyday life and especially in winter conditions at the same time. In other words, personality is there, key message delivery is there, engagement and branding is also there.

In short with one stone you shot all the birds. It is also another proof of demos is still the best ways to deliver your message in “product” communication and a good perspective and eye opener in terms of demos in advertising.

So well done to those contributed :)

You can access my future posts via following links:

https://www.facebook.com/marcombysolaks
https://twitter.com/MarcomBySolaks

Café Coffee Day: “Sit Down” against non-sense

Category : Commercial Codes in English

Hello everyone, this week’s note has been little late due to some freelance chores but here it is…:)

In the previous note, we analyzed the Diesel example which illustrated a contemporary disease,for this week we have another example from India, which illustrates similar contemporary cultural disease as well.

Word is becoming a weird place to live. We live in a culture, based on “motion”. We rush into things, catch-up with our friends, jump in to conversation, deliver speeches etc. There is always constant motion and action.

We also live in argument culture as well. In TV, there is reality shows and argument, in social media comments, likes, dislikes and off course argument, in corporate world there is discussions and argument, in relationships there is argument…But the sad thing is, with the growing “popularity cult” arising from social media and media culture, finding the middle ground in discussions and communication is the less important and cool thing in these days.

And last but not least, we also live in information culture as well. I would like to call these phenomena as “information cult”.

With the constantly exploding and geometrically flowing information, having the current and up to date information in a coolest form is becoming a “badge”. And like the entire badges do, information badge is also becoming a vehicle for showing off and belonging.

In other words information is not a thing that we are using to form and develop ideas and opinions anymore because we are in a rush. Motion culture is not allowing us to think about, digest, analyze and interpret the information, because in that case a thing will occur called as “wisdom” and it has no currency to make us popular within argument culture and information race. That’s because wisdom is the biggest enemy of nonsense.

So, non-stopping motion, exploding information, and never ending polarization… These are the symptoms of a bigger contemporary disease; the “popularity cult”.

Isn’t sound a little manic? I think all of us feel from time to time that it really is. And for those who do not know what manic personality really is; it is a reaction, a coping mechanism against the deep down depression, dissatisfaction and the feeling of insignificance…

That’s because, everything turns into a commodity in these day. Opinions are commodity, time is commodity, identifications and belongings are commodity, love is commodity, happiness community and eventually human is commodity. All of those are our ammunition to trade, in that “popularity cult”.

And while everything is becoming a commodity for a huge popularity contest we lost something on the road called: Essence and meaning. And this is frustrating!

But man this is also exhausting too…! Sometimes we all want to get a break and just sit down and “talk” and really get to know each other. And enrich our souls.

This is exactly what Cafe Coffee Day commercial is all about.

The success of TVC is not only coming from addressing the contemporary symptoms and disease but it is also successful in terms of location selection to illustrate the problem and propose the cure against it.

By calling people to “sit down” against nonsense and by doing it exactly where the nonsense happens it brilliantly creates a tone of acknowledgement, intimacy and proximity.

It is also successfully brings the real “café” world into youngsters online world which is indispensable for them. This way, it makes to café culture relevant and encourages youth to go out and socialize without giving up the online socialization as well.

In short it brings the constructive café soul and warmness into the wild online jungle… And reminding us there is more in sitting down and talk, than racing in a manic and ridiculous rhythm.

Well done to those contributed. See you on the next note. :)

Diesel YUK Shoes: A call for reality!

Category : Commercial Codes in English

Hello Everyone,

Before starting this week’s note I would like to make a statement.
As frequent readers of this blog already knew, I’ve been writing on this blog for almost two years. And what I am doing here, well, I basically aiming to increase and contribute both myself and collective advertising literacy.

Basically I am trying to uncover codes of the commercials here. What was the marketing thinking behind them, what was the social thinking, consumer thinking etc.? And I am also trying to uncover why they used such particular codes what they were aiming to achieve? Things like that…

While I have been doing this, recently I realized that limiting my audience to Turkish speaking marketing and communication community is unfair, considering the fact that most of the cases I am covering are the international ones.

So from now on, I will write non-Turkish cases in English. Hopefully my fellow non-Turkish sparker friends will like it too… The English section in the blog also, English version of my credentials, will also be launched soon. So stay tune for more :)

Welcome again and enjoy the readings. Also please feel free to share with your friends :)

Cheers,
Cem

**********

Diesel YUK Shoes: A call for reality!

We are all living in a strange world.

With the rise of technology and social media, the rules of the game have been changed. Today is a world which virtual imageries replaced with real selves, and curation is overshadowing the creation.

We are all curating our visual images, nourish it, and polish it, market it, competing based on it and most of the time even judging ourselves and others over it. Likes becomes far more important than ideas. And popularity becomes far more important than essence, experience and wisdom.

Originality and creative thinking has never been a less of commodity.

Now we all are walking buzz words. Our perception of the world has been limited with our Facebook and Twitter flows. We are all living, working, creating, sharing in the similar virtual and real eco systems.

As a result of that we are all big living data junks, thinking ourselves different and unique from others. But actually we are all deriving our personality from similar virtual flows.

Even the real world activates becoming part of this virtual phenomenon, including the sports and sports brands such as Nike. They all are adopting themselves into this big data and curation world.

Recent launches of Nike such as Nike+ shoes and Nike+ FuelBand are all based on this trend.

 Off course as a rule when a trend rises in society its counter-trend or reaction also rises simultaneously. Because trends are edgy things by definition and edgy things creates polarization.

The side effect of this virtual social world and selves phenomena is, we are all taking this virtual world for granted and as a result of that we are losing ourselves in virtual competition.

We even feel depressed sometimes about how everybody else’s lives are perfect compare to ourselves (they are actually curated visual images but that’s all we see…) and most of the time we feel overwhelmed, exhausted, inadequate and insufficient against this constantly flowing virtual data, happenings and curations.

Deep down we all know the ridiculousness and non-sense of it but we do not want to stay behind and we felt obliged to be a part of it.

That was exactly Diesel’ insight when they were launching their legendary YUK shoes for its 20th year anniversary.

 

 

Diesel copies are not only reaction and opportunistic counter act against Nike’s hyper technological and socially competitive Nike+ line, but it is also the reaction against current narcissist social media paradigm.

While we are all talking about the importance of content and story in this exploding social media craze, that’s definitely the kind of brand and attempt we all would like to see.

It is not only reflecting a true consumer thinking and reaction but also underlines and emphasizes the importance of insight notion to create genuine resonating stories. Even in this curation oriented social media world…

To conclude, these kinds of brands will be only ones, remain after this curation bloom gets normalized. Brands who put genuine insight, depth and dimension in their communication efforts will be the ones who win eventually and resonate into consumers’ hearts from generations to generations, obviously in every available and upcoming communication channels.

And Diesel is one of the best brands who are doing it so successfully. Also this campaign, as expectedly fits very well with the Diesel’s controversial and non-conformist attitude.

So well done to the team for the brilliant thinking… :)