This past weekend, a modern remake of the classic film A Star is Born opened in theaters across the country, earning deserved critical acclaim, powerful box office numbers, and praise for its stars Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. Some audiences may remember the Judy Garland (1954) or Barbara Streisand (1976) versions, or even the first A Star is Born featuring Janet Gaynor (1937). What many may not know is that Gaynor’s movie was an adaptation of the 1932 film What Price Hollywood?, making this the fifth time audiences have enjoyed this particular story.
In this era of reboots and remakes, what makes a storyline so compelling that a movie can be remade generation after generation? What in the American psyche keeps bringing us back to this theme?
In a recent blog, I introduced the book TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson, the “Head of TED.” In this inspiring and practical guide, Chris makes a persuasive case about the importance of public speaking for anyone with a message to share. Brand leaders, innovators, artists – all have a story worth telling and can benefit from creating an active, engaged audience for their brand, their products, or their message.
In Chris’s case, the message is that presentation literacy (the ability to present effectively in public) is not an innate power that only a few of us are born with, it’s a teachable skill that anyone can learn. That means that, with a bit of practice, all of us have the ability to make our mark and share our story with the world. I want to take a closer look at the public speaking skill set Anderson identifies and how we can put it into practice for compelling, impactful storytelling.
I recently saw a piece of excellent spec work from some advertising students out of Germany titled “Dear Brother.” I won't spoil it for you if you haven't seen it, but the spot is moving, effective and tells an incredible story. In working to produce the spot, film students Dorian Lebherz and Daniel Titz, enlisted the support of Ashton Hinkison, a London-based agency, to get the casting right. As Lebherz says in his interview with brandchannel,
Since this spot focuses much more on character than on plot, the casting process was very important to us…[The actors] portrayed that sensible authenticity we were looking for and when they met for the first time, it really seemed as if they'd known each other their whole life.
The power and authenticity of the spot got me thinking about how storytelling is so often used in varying degrees across marketing and branding.
For most of us, some recurring character or story line has shaped at least a small potion of our experiences with advertising: the Geico Gecko, Progressive's anthropomorphized “Mayhem,” even Verizon's “Can you hear me now?” character. With the growth of social media and the increase in different media the Internet provides, this marketing technique has exploded to great effect. As Lebherz goes on to say in his interview,
“We wanted to tell a story that captures the audience emotionally in a very short period of time… We believe a cinematic story that creates emotions is always stronger than a rich assembly of different settings without storytelling.”
Let's take a look at why and how these stories can create meaningful connections with consumers.