Storytelling and Advertising, Part 1

Storytelling and Advertising

This is a poster for POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, Sony Pictures Classics, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist.

This is a poster for POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, Sony Pictures Classics, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist.

There is something about advertising, which leaves me captivated. In fact these days I find myself listening to the radio specifically for the advertisements. I listen to them, think about how they chose to sell their product, service, event, or cause, and then think about how effective it was.

Funny, right? I mean, after my first two years of media studies I was so disgusted with the manipulation in the industry I quit school and moved to a place without cable (I think they have it now). But they still had radio there.

The main radio station in town was, like, hyper-local. Where the announcers pronounced words like “cache” cash-aye instead of cash. I spent a lot of time listening to this station. Not by choice. It was because the place I worked had a radio waaaaaaaay up on 18′ shelves and I couldn’t change it. It played on and on all day, every day.

I’m thankful for this time in my life because listening to this silly little station for eight hours a day introduced me to syndicated programming in the form of Paul Harvey.

And now, for the rest of the story

The late American journalist’s storytelling was captivating. These short features presented little-known facts on an array of topics with the key element of the story held until the end. I learned to look forward to these daily story times. It made the other seven hours and 55 minutes bearable.

As I listened each day I became more and more interested in telling stories too. In fact I believe this was one of the many small incidents, which led me back to university and media. Maybe I could become a great storyteller too.

So how does advertising fit in? Well as the years have passed I’m learning advertising can be an effective means of storytelling. And for the most part I like it, so long as the content is truthful and not manipulative.

These Anchorman spots for Dodge are a home run.

For example. They’re a perfect example of what The Greatest Movie Ever Sold was studying about media partnerships.


I’m finding myself intrigued by the industry and curious to know what works, what doesn’t, and why.

Social Pressure to be a Do-Gooder

I don’t know how long this campaign has been running but every time I see a spot on television or hear an ad on radio I feel my cheeks flush in what could be considered rage.

And of course I can’t find any images or videos of the campaign I’m referring to so you’ll just have to believe that it bugs me and it’s for good reason.

Actually, I don’t disagree with the goal of the campaign: to get people to recycle.

What I have a problem with, in fact am offended by, is the way they’ve chosen to do it.

Each ad shows someone littering followed by “litter karma” kicking the person in the face (or something to that effect). The tag line then reads/says “every time you don’t recycle it says something about you.”

What now!?

Not only are the advertisers inferring (not so subtly) that if you litter then karma will get you (a completely inaccurate definition of karma by the way), but it dains to suggest that you are literally uncool if you don’t recycle something. In fact in some ads the litterbug gets dumped by his/her significant other because “litter karma” ratted him/her out.

It puts the idea into people’s heads that “everyone else” thinks you’re a douchebag if you don’t recycle something.

That’s fine, maybe you are. And I’m not actually saying you shouldn’t recycle, so long as you understand you can’t just throw everything into a blue bag and sit back and congratulate yourself for saving the world.

What I’m steamed about is it’s assuming no one can be bothered to recycle unless it means they’ll look better to other people.

It’s using social pressure to motivate a generation of litterbugs and I think that’s crap.

If the only reason you’re recycling is to look good in front of other people let me stop you right there. As soon as the pressure’s off I can promise your recycling efforts will cool down as well.

The only way recycling will last is if you believe in what you’re doing and make it a part of your lifestyle and routine.

I’m just so tired of advertisers not giving consumers enough credit to even pretend they’ll do the right thing on their own motivation.

Whatever happened to informing the masses?

Happy National Ice Cream Day!

I’ve only been to Cold Stone Creamery once before, and it was nearly a year ago. It was a good experience, but for whatever reason I haven’t made my way back there. Until this week that is.

One of the more interesting media releases to capture my attention lately was from said creamery and began by telling me July 15 was National Ice Cream day.

What now?

Well, apparently Ronald Reagan declared July as “National Ice Cream Month” back in 1984, as well as the third Sunday in July as “National Ice Cream Day.” While that’s pretty cool I was also quite certain Reagan is American, thus making this a national day for Americans to celebrate. Aww.

So I asked around on Twitter a bit and the general feeling seemed to be Canadians could have this day too. So Cold Stone Creamery was just on the up-trend of that day and produced Province-specific Signature Creations to celebrate.

After making sure the special provincial creations would be available all summer I waited till the heat got the best of me and went on over to give the B.C. Rocky Mountain Landslide a try.

Unfortunately the poor kid running the slab wasn’t 100 per cent sure he knew what I was asking for, and I didn’t see advertising of any kind for me to refer to. So I dug up the media release and prepared to start reading him the ingredients: chocolate ice cream, whipped topping, Oreo cookie pieces, and chocolate chips.

Instead he went to the back to check on my claim and I waited…for a while

At least it was air conditioned.

Eventually he returned and started creating my very own “Love It” B.C. Rocky Mountain Landslide. And let me say, it was well worth the wait!

However, my original plan to take the treat to go melted once I saw how enormous (and potentially messy) this creation was. It afforded me 10 wonderful minutes all to myself while I celebrated the best National Ice Cream Day I’ve ever had.

To see all the other Cold Stone Creamery creative creations here’s the list organized by province. I find the Newfoundland “Cod”ton Candy Dandy and the Quebec La Poutine Gourmand especially intriguing.

Ask and Ye Shall Receive (Nasty Clown)

I know, you were skeptical. But I had faith. No really!

As you already know, auto correct is on my mind. And since it’s on my mind, I wanted to show you a little commercial I enjoy. But—gasp!—I couldn’t find it! So I asked for it.

And…I got it!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s very, very cool to get what you ask for, but I wasn’t surprised. Why? Because the commercial I was looking for was specifically advertising how this company helps you with vaguely related phone functions. And this is definitely vaguely related!


I should clarify it’s not like Telus loaded this commercial on YouTube because I asked them to. No, it was already there. However, when a commercial you know as nasty clown is labelled “Free Learning Centre sessions at TELUS” um…how are we supposed to find it?

Anyway, I hope you can understand why I enjoy this commercial and why it was worth searching for with a little more intention.

Well. That was fun.

The most wonderful time of the year

It’s season premier time!

If my parent’s didn’t have a PVR I know for a fact I wouldn’t care about my Top Five shows of the 2009-10 season.

Probably I’d catch the odd episode when it was on, if I was home, or I’d check some online TV site every now and then but…

But they do and I do.

Deep down I feel I shouldn’t want to watch TV but if I’m honest, I like it. Think what you want judgies. I can take it.

The Top Five Shows I’m happy to tape and watch later this season

  1. NCIS
  2. Big Bang Theory
  3. Bones
  4. The Office
  5. How I Met Your Mother

Monday is the official PVR night, where my sister and I fight over the TV against my parents. How can my #2 and #5 be on the same night as House!? What an epic battle Monday’s are going to be…

HIMYM Season Five is going to be really legendary, by the way. The premier was great (Inside Woo Hoo please).