Digital Story-telling

Little rat reading the book

Another terrific discussion on BBH Labs blog about the digital narrative:
And here’s my comment.

I don’t think that digital storytelling and the brand storytelling are necessarily divorced from one another. Infact, I’m not sure if a narrative-based digital campaign will be successful on its own. Narrative and a story builds over time. To think that digital can manage that with one campaign, one microsite, one widget is to basically apply the same, tired old advertising-thinking to new behavioral models.

I should share the story of Amul Butter. Amul is one of India’s leading dairy companies. Since the 70’s (probably even before) Amul Butter advertisements (print, billboards etc) have been satirical observations of culture, politics, cricket and bollywood. Yet – tied effortlessly to the brand. This three-decade old archive of advertisements might as well be the best interpretation and elucidation of the country’s pop culture. The consistency, the witty-writing/ creative and the dogged dedication to the narrative have made these advertisements and Amul Butter one of India’s most loved brands. The brand inspires passion, loyalty and patriotism as the new entrants try to bite off Amul’s share of the market.

Amul is not a ‘digital brand’ yet – but it operates in very different markets where billboards are more relevant and pervasive than the internet. But the larger lesson I hoped to highlight by sharing this story is that: the point of storytelling is to evoke passion. And that happens over long-term.

Sharing examples of Charlie-bit-me videos is fine – but thats a one-time hit. When was the time we spoke about the Numa song or the Chinese backstreet boys ? One-time hits fizzle out eventually – everything on the web fizzles out eventually as newwer, shiner, funnier stories emerge. I don’t argue the value of a one-time growth spurt for a brand, but if we are talking about storytelling, lets not look at the web as a as a very in-the-moment/ instant-gratification medium. Investment in new media and its planning should be a strategic long term plan, not a short-term hit. Only then, will we be adding any tangible value. AND creating stories that will be conversed about for years to come.

(Img via Flickr)

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