The Fungible Nature of Story or Jane Eyre Was One Funny Ten Year Old–Who Knew?

So I’m plowing through McKee and Campbell and all sorts of other thinkers, delving into the principles of story narrative with a mind to reinvent the working notion of advertising campaigns for our agency.  By focusing on the basic foundations of story, perhaps we can more easily reorient both our work and ourselves away from a push-driven, objectives-based, communications-controlling POV toward a more two-way, push-pull, communications sharing perspective.  Anyway, I’m reading a lot lately…

A Pre-Victorian Lisa Simpson If You Will

A Pre-Victorian Lisa Simpson If You Will

At the same time, my wife has been reading two chapters of Charlotte Bronte’s classic gothic novel Jane Eyre every night to our (now five days away from) nine year old. Despite some digressions to explain the meaning of archaic terms like ‘ligature,’ ‘wretched,’ and my personal favorite–‘bilious’–it’s been one of the nicest surprises in months.  I look forward to hearing the next installment each night; somehow in the intervening thirty or so years since last I spent any time with young Jane, she grew to be funny and spunky and insightful in a way I never recognized as an eighth grader.

It’s funny how a great story might not speak to you–at least not right away–and yet it inevitably finds its audience.  Which gives me real hope that if we make great brand stories and get them out to people who appreciate them, those people will be inspired to do a lot of the storytelling for us, widening the circle, and finding an engaged, participatory audience.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

Regarding The Critical Intersection of Traditional and New Advertising Platforms published something from a conference rather extravagantly titled “The Empirical Generalizations in Advertising.”  Wow.  Anyone who knows me knows I like my generalizations to be empirical, so I read it closely.

Amidst other findings, they published this from the Keller Fay Group regarding Word of Mouth advertising.  Citing interviews conducted since 2006, they concluded that over 20% of conversations included a reference to advertising.  Further, they suggest ad-influenced WOM is 20% more likely to include an active recommendation to buy or try the product.

As a traditionally trained advertising creative, I’m wearing a huge happy hat over that news.  Because in the perpetual motion experience that defines the best of modern advertising, a medium labeled as ‘traditional’ as television, still drives engagement.  It can still push out a message that starts conversations.  And changes minds.

Not on its own, not in a vacuum, and not at the expense of other engagement points…but still, good TV advertising works.  It relies on the power of creativity.  And it doesn’t stop with TV.  The trick is to ensure that every touchpoint reinforces and advances one message.

Which, as any experienced ad practitioner knows, comes down to Advertising 101.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

The Beauty of Crisp, Smart Ball Movement

basketballhoopstockphotosmallTwo nights a week, a group of guys way past their prime play full court at the local Catholic elementary school gym.  Crowding the lane, slamming in the paint, occasionally committing acts of unlikely grace: it’s basically my version of Fight Club. And yet, two or three times tonight, we found an unusual synch with our offensive passing.   Great ball movement makes any team worth watching; it multiplies possibilities and sets up surprising scoring opportunities.  And it made me, however briefly and inopportunely, reconsider my obsession with push and pull marketing models.  Back and forth, over, around, through, across and back and forth again: the constant movement fascinated and engaged all of us, just the way you hope a symphony of multi-platform communications work for a brand.

Of course, I will still stand by the notion of a Perpetual Motion Experience instead of revising it to the Triangle Offense or something similarly basketball-centric.  Sports analogies don’t translate to every audience, and besides, when it comes to advertising sports analogies, no one can match the halcyon achievement of Bob Merlotti’s guest editorial in the October 22 issue of Adweek.  Genius.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

It’s Not Either Digital or Traditional, It’s Not Either Push or Pull: The Model Must Be Perpetual Motion.


Push?  Pull?  Or something far, far better?

Push? Pull? Or something far, far better?

In the ongoing tussle that characterizes far too many competing agency interactions, separatists on both sides make blanket statements asserting the superiority of traditional reach or digital engagement or whatever approach favors their current business model.

And everyone loses, the brands first among them.

In a converged world, marketed brands require both.  The balance may change from brand to brand due to factors like where they stand in their product lifecycle or their specific consumer demographic, but all require a carefully orchestrated pull and push.   Since ‘push/pull’ reminds me of that goofy llama from the Dr. Doolittle movie, let’s refer to the converged marketing approach as the Perpetual Motion model.  In other words, our work must flow back and forth in an endlessly interactive cycle.  You announce then you engage, or you attract then you inform; you set a lofty brand goal and then take small daily steps to bring your market along to that better, better place.

In a dynamic world, brands take on their own lives.  And as anyone who has ever cared for a child or a pet knows, living things demand perpetual motion to keep them growing healthy and safe.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79