The shapes of stories

[As published on the IAB Blog] To those of us who are involved in defining social media content strategies, transmedia planning or creating  advertainment assets it’s becoming increasingly apparent we need to be skillful storytellers. But rather than draw inspiration from our peers and the marketing literati, shouldn’t we also be turning to professional storytellers like authors, script writers, film directors and journalists?

With that in mind, I thought Kurt Vonnegut, a successful American writer, artist and anthropologist, could teach us a thing or two about storytelling.  He developed the ‘Shapes of Stories’ model which is a beautifully simple yet witty visualisation of the way certain stories unfold to the final denouement. The x-axis plots the story from beginning to end and the y-axis represents the emotional roller-coaster between positive and negative outcomes. From there you can see how different stories start to take shape. The infographic below gives a handy synopsis of the different shapes and approaches but to bring this to life you really must watch this entertaining clip where he presents this in person in his own inimitable style.

shape of stories infographic

So how might we apply this in our day jobs?

The main take out for me as a planner is to visualise the shape and emotional journey you want to create for the consumer before developing your next brand story.  It might also be quite a useful frame of reference when creating or assessing potential creative routes to see whether a different narrative structure could generate a more desirable emotional outcome.

On a more immediate level, I can also see a framework such as this help us to improve the way we present strategy to senior management or in pitch situations. After all, the best presentations are invariably those which manage to frame the client challenges and the subsequent strategic recommendations around a gripping storyline.

If nothing else, perhaps one should just view this as a ‘Kurt’ reminder that we all need to become good storytellers, not just good communicators.

April fool campaigns you may have missed

This is a bit after the horse has  bolted (or should i say finished the Grand National) but here’s a few gems of April Foolery you may have missed:


As a parody to Coke Zero, here at TMW we came up with this great campaign for Lynx (even though i can’t take any credit for it!)

Lynx Zero is a new range of sprays, shower gels and hair products for men in relationships. The range is understood to contain absolutely no ‘Lynx Effect’ – the brand’s infamous ingredient that has made guys irresistible to the opposite sex for years. The new range claims to boast all of the Lynx flavour but just have less effect on the opposite sex. So lads in relationships – or even single lads who simply want a day off – can still look good, smell good and feel good… without getting in trouble.





TMW also developed this nice idea for Durex Facebook.What better way to stop the sound from overly-amorous neighbours than a pair of sex-noise cancelling headphones.

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Just to show I’m not completely biased here’s a non TMW example! BMW UK who ran an ad campaign for the P.R.A.M. (Postnatal Royal Auto Mobile) to link in with the imminent royal birth. The ad featured in the Daily Telegraph, on the BMW UK website (now removed) and the BMW UK Facebook page.


If you want to see April Fool campaigns from earlier years, click here (2009) or here (2012)

Instagram web profiles

Instragram have finally woken up and created online web profiles for all their avid Instrammers.  Hallelujah.  This is great news to Instagrammers like myself as it will open up the closed mobile community to potentially a much wider audience. I run a photography business in my spare time so this is a great way of increasing exposure of my work, although at present I tend to just use Instagram to host my mobile photography.  You’re welcome to view or follow my web profile here.

I imagine this will be a big incentive for brands to jump on board or invest further in this platform, not just because the Instagram community will inevitably grow as a consequence, but also because I’m hoping the branded content and web profiles may now get crawled by search engines.

Could this be the kiss of death for Flickr I wonder?

Lynx celebrates 1 million fans with Rube Goldberg machine

Hats off to the Lynx team at TMW who have just published this great video to commemorate reaching the important milestone of 1 million fans.  The Rube Goldberg machine is a nod to all the Lynx products or campaigns over the years to the present day.  It was shot in one take but took over 58 attempts to get it right.  What I particularly like about this video is that you have to watch it carefully – and many times – to have any chance of guessing all the references. How many TV ads can do that?

If you’re impatient like me and can’t wait to figure out all the references, he’s the answers revealed in reverse order using You Tube’s video annotation.