The elderly man sits on his bed alone or at a table surrounded by others in a depressing retirement home. He gazes into space, thinking of his past glory as a marathon athlete. After rediscovering his well-worn Adidas training shoes, he suddenly tries to regain a sense of freedom by running again. But the nursing home staff cruelly blocks all his attempts and confiscates his shoes. After a while, his retirement friends help him recover them – and, with their bodies, prevent the staff from stopping him and killing his dream. The old man breaks free, runs away and raises his arms in a sign of elation.
This emotional “Adidas Break Free” ad has spread incredibly, reaching 9,8 million views on YouTube in just a few weeks. A huge success by all standards. But the interesting fact is, it’s not an Adidas campaign.
The commercial that gained the top spot on Advertising Age’s Viral Video chart covering the week through Sunday is absolutely amazing. Featuring a stuffed bear couple arriving at Heathrow Airport after a flight, amid human actors, it could have easily turned kitsch. Instead, it is extremely delicate and tender, even moving. The fact is, its structure and form are the perfect recipe to get us involved.
According to Advertising Age’s brief article, this message had an incredible viral success, receiving more than 67 million views in just one week (see Heathrow Joins the Viral Video Chart with Unbearably Cute Bears’ Arrival by Rebecca Hia). What reasons may explain such an impact?
American presidential elections have always largely revolved around storytelling. As in many other contemporary narrative wars, the best story wins. Barak Obama was able to clinch his first presidential mandate thanks to the story of his life – from a precarious childhood to the US Senate.
But this year the storytelling side of the race is even more overwhelming. Very clearly, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are competing much more on their personal issues than on their political agendas. And this competition is now reaching its climax.
Are you interested in brand and corporate storytelling? And do you love Italy? If the answer to both questions is yes – and if you are a student in search of a second level degree – you have now the chance to attend the Master in Storytelling at Pavia University, the first-ever course of this kind in Italy.
The precise name of the course is Master in Marketing Utilities and Storytelling Techniques (MUST) and the possibility to apply for the academic year starting in January 2017 is already open. Subjects include many marketing topics conceived to offer a solid basis for the study of a wide range of storytelling issues.
Storytelling today is a very mediated activity. We mostly consume stories through movies, books, video games, TV series, social media, and so on. This also applies to brand storytelling, by which companies seek to appeal to increasingly connected customers. But what about traditional, face-to-face storytelling? Is it still relevant and useful? And could it play a role to the benefit of modern companies and brands?
I started to ask myself those questions after reading a very interesting piece by Caitlin Causey on Post Independent (September 15, 2016). The article informs about Spellbinders, a nonprofit organization based in Carbondale, Colorado, which specializes in oral storytelling. What do they do? Basically they organize volunteer storytellers, willing to work with children in preschool and elementary grades.