On [Narrative]: Event write-up (2)

28 July 2011
Reading Time
3 minute read

Advertising virtuoso Kate Stanners (Saatchi & Saatchi) shared the wealth of experience she has gained over her prolific career, beginning with her stories of working on various campaigns for Cadbury’s Flake – the original campaign was created by her father, himself an advertising top-dog in his day.

In advertising you are often presented with dry, frustrating problems, she conceded. The key is finding ways to make it interesting to people, which is not necessarily in-keeping with what the clients think is interesting! Visual storytelling helps to engage people – it’s unifying regardless of language barriers and cultural nuances.

And one nugget of advice: “It’s always good to get a bottom in there. Particularly a boy’s bottom.”

It seems today’s buzz words in advertising are “brand narrative”. Saatchi & Saatchi work closely on a long-term basis with brands to communicate their story. With the T-mobile campaign Welcome Back, Kate purposefully steered clear of the client’s notion of “sharing magic moments”, instead constructing their own spectacles in unexpected public places, which people could choose to share.

The T-Mobile Welcome Back HD from Travis Lee on Vimeo.

Kate explained that it tapped into basic stories we all know and can all relate to. The 60% increase in sales figures following the ad demonstrated that emotion is a powerful tool for communicating an idea. And once a brand narrative is established, you can re-tell and react to stories happening in the world using the same format and visual language – in the case of T-mobile this was the wedding of the year

The Q&A with all three speakers raised some interesting comparisons between their different approaches to narrative. Mikey doesn’t have a resolution in mind when he begins writing, neither do Studio Weave. In fact, they don’t need people to know the story to appreciate the architecture they create. But for Kate, there needs to be a (loose) structure, and an idea of the final emotion or response Saatchi is seeking from the audience.

When asked whether they’ve got a backlog of stories they’re waiting to tell, Mikey agreed there’s a bunch of things he’s trying to find an outlet for. Kate made us laugh recounting how her creative team sometimes re-present the same ideas packaged in new ways. The lesson to be learnt: you can’t try and fit stories to any problem. Similarly, Maria is adamant Studio Weave would never write a story without a site in mind.

Once again, a massive thank you to Red Bull for doing such a good job of looking after us, and to everyone who came along to the event.

On [Activism], the last talk in the series takes place on 11th August, featuring Ken Garland, Francesca Gavin and Lucienne Roberts. Tickets go on sale next week. Make sure you don’t miss out, we reckon these will go like hot cakes!

Images: Steve Stills for Red Bull Co. Ltd.

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Maya Davies

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