Storytelling on the World Stage

During Social Media Week I attended the event “Creating Emotional Connections Through Content” hosted by Aspect Film and Video at The Hospital Club in Central London.

The presentation focused on film clips and TV adverts and outlined the fundamental story ingredients brands need to tell their stories effectively and authentically.

These ingredients included the basic components of a story: a quest, a conflict, a climax, and a resolution, but also highlighted the necessity of making the role of the product or brand clear and authentic.

In this context, authenticity relates to the emotional response/connection that your content aims to create. An authenticity gap emerges when the end emotion or message fails to align with your brand and what people think of your brand.

With the Rugby World Cup in full swing I started to think about brand storytelling during large international events and the difference between authentic brand content and more event-focused content.

Millions of people around the world tune into the Rugby/FIFA World Cup’s and Olympic games, making them a major brand marketing opportunity for companies worldwide. In a 2012 article for The Mirror, Jim Shelley detailed how some companies will easily spend up to £3 million on a single ad with big hopes of it going viral and bringing in extra sales.

But with this opportunity comes the temptation to step away from authentic content in light of creating ‘content for content sake,’ where the prospect of viral success overrides alignment with brand values.

While some brands succeed in creating brilliant content that not only tells a story while relating to the event, but also maintains the role of the product/brand, others tend to fall short on the authenticity front.

Now, I’m not trying to suggest that there is anything wrong with creating this type of content, in fact sometimes it’s so good that it doesn’t even matter that the role of the brand is hidden. Look at Budweiser’s adorable #BestBuds adverts first released for the 2014 Super Bowl in the US and again for this year’s game; the Budweiser brand is essentially absent until the final moments of the ad, but it still creates a strong emotional connection while telling a great story.

But there’s something to be said for the emotional response that can come from authentic content where the brands story is told alongside the event rather than in its shadows.

For example, take P&G’s reoccurring “Best Job” campaign first launched during the 2012 London Olympics and again for Sochi in 2014, and more recently, #BleedForEngland launched by NHS Blood and Transplant during the Rugby World Cup.

Both videos succeed in creating strong emotional connections to audiences while telling a story that is authentic to the respective brand and its values and goals. Both campaigns have enjoyed immense public support with the Telegraph recognising the “Best Job” adverts as some of the best of the London Olympics and #BleedForEngland trending on Twitter as the rugby tournament began with users stating they were inspired to register to donate.

In the end, authenticity stands as an influential storytelling component. It serves to establish that link between the story being told and the brand doing the telling, and creates a response that relates to the brand and its values.

While events like the Rugby World Cup are undeniable opportunities for brand storytelling worldwide, in all of the excitement it is important not to lose sight of your brand values. Ultimately it’s an opportunity wasted when your brand is lost in the crowd.

Georgia Sibold, Intern, Creative Strategy