Telling a story through ads

Having been in the industry for 10 years, our Art Director Stephen Noble believes that advertising needs to tell a story over anything else.

No one cares.

Having been in the advertising game now for ten years I have learned that no one cares about your new bank account, car, mobile phone, lipstick.

I have also learned that as an art director it’s your job to come up with ideas. This may sound fun, but the hard part is producing great ideas on demand. It’s very easy to come up with crap ideas, even okay ones, but great ideas are hard to do.

If your product is not original then you’re in even more trouble. If it is, then whoop whoop, you’re on to a winner as everyone will talk about it and that’s free advertising.

So you may well be asking what you have to do if you need to get people excited about something that they don’t care about?

The answer is that you need to tell a story, and tell it well.

For me, there are five things that a story/ad campaign must have.

  • A concept. The more unique/original this can be the better
  • It must be about something/have a theme
  • Have a start, middle and end. Or hook, build……payoff
  • You should have a hero and it’s great if you have a villain
  • The best stories/ad campaigns build to a climax centred on a clash between the hero and villain

So it grabs attention, escalate tension, stakes, excitement, then a great ending that brings it home with a bang.

But be careful as Hollywood has found out the power of social media is now stronger than the 4.5 stars at the bottom of you poster. If your film or product is terrible then spend money on making it better, not on the advertising. People talk and they love to talk more if your product is awful.

Another thing I have learned is ask yourself what success looks like. This one question can give you your budget and your time scale. If its four Facebook likes you’re after, okay, come back in 30 mins. If the answer is we want to win a Cannes Lions, come back in six months.

I hope this is helpful, as this form of advertising is a dying art. You only need to look at the top guys now to see that they are creating products and software to do the advertising for them. Give someone something for free and oh…they will talk about it. The McDonald’s music tray and Beck’s 360 camera are just two examples from last week. Products are now advertising. But, and this is the good part, products are like stories. They too have a hook, a build and a payoff.

So that’s it.

Telling better stories and someone will care…

By Stephen Noble, Art Director