These days, advertisements are becoming more and more “personal” to consumers. Different brands are beginning to research thoroughly on their target markets and are coming up with new ways to directly appeal to them as people, and not as companies.
Recent advertisements have then started taking on a new style of marketing: storytelling. Visual advertisements, particularly the ones on TV and on social media, have begun to adopt a format where the brand inserts their product placements in a heart-warming story that aims to get the audiences’ attention and invoke strong feelings from them.
What is storytelling marketing?
With social media introducing more and more content to people at an ever-changing pace, it becomes more difficult for brands to keep their customers. This is where content marketing, particularly storytelling marketing, comes in.
Content marketing, by definition, is the act of creating relevant and compelling content to generate positive behavior and interest from the brand’s target audience. When creating campaign materials, content marketers often use different ways and elements of storytelling.
Storytelling marketing isn’t anything new. When a brand utilizes storytelling-like elements in their marketing campaigns, they take away the focus from their product or service and instead shift to the “humanity” exhibited with relation to their products or services. With storytelling marketing, brands go beyond promoting product use; instead, they create stronger emotional connection with their consumers.
The assumption here is that since emotions affect purchases more than logic, brands that strive to create a long-lasting emotional connection with their target audience will be more successful. So far, it’s working.
While there are no conclusive studies yet on how the successes of these advertisements can be quantified, it has been proven that the more someone relates to a story, the more they’re likely to remember it. Neuroeconomist Paul Zak has also found in his research that humans, as social creatures, have brains that are better suited to process stories, as information relayed in a narrative manner are more likely to sustain a person’s attention with the tension produced by the story. Narratives are also more likely to incite empathy from people, which can keep them more attached to the story and the characters they can relate to.
More often than not, advertisements that aim to tell a story are very emotional in nature; they’re meant to be relatable to people so they can empathize with the characters. Oftentimes, these advertisements are about family, love, and friendships.
#KwentongJollibee: How a burger chain took advantage of one of the best marketing strategies
To Filipinos, storytelling in marketing is nothing new. Some classic and memorable narrative advertisements we’ve had are McDo’s “Lolo” in 2001, Surf’s “Lumen and Lando” commercial series in 1999, and Bear Brand’s “Lola, Let’s Dance” in the 80’s.
Today, one famous example of storytelling in marketing is Jollibee’s #KwentongJollibee campaign. Since 2017, Jollibee has become associated with the Valentine’s season for releasing heart-wrenching video advertisements. The first three clips they released, titled “Vow,” “Crush,” and “Date” all shot to fame immediately, with each being relatable and emotional commercials in their own right.
In an interview, Arline Adeva, Jollibee’s Head of Brand Communication and PR Head, shared that she and her team mostly used their intuition in picking what stories to feature. They didn’t rely on any hard science and instead went for a personal approach; they knew their market, and thus instinctively determined what would be considered “personal” to them.
It’s safe to say the #KwentongJollibee campaign was successful in grabbing the attention of Filipinos everywhere. Yum Burgers sales quadrupled after the burger was used by the characters in “Crush” and people also began sticking notes on them, as seen in the commercial. After their initial release, their three Valentines videos collectively reached at least 48 million Facebook and YouTube views. #KwentongJollibee has also given the brand a boost in their social media presence, garnering almost 662,000 mentions and roughly 52 million impressions online in 2017 alone. The advertisements also reached people from around the world, getting attention even from foreigners and winning awards in Singapore in 2018.
Following their success in 2017, people then began to look forward to Valentine’s season to see what story Jollibee will release next. The intended one-time videos then grew into something more as every Valentine’s season since then saw Jollibee releasing new commercials. True to the season, these videos are all still about love. However, Jollibee continues to take it a step further and explores the different kinds of love present in Filipino society. They’ve released campaigns not only focused on romantic love, but on familial love as well, and they still keep their stories relatable to the masses.
The future of marketing?
In recent years, storytelling marketing is coming out to be the next best thing for content marketing to keep and promote customer engagement with brands.
As we see with Jollibee, storytelling is very effective in promoting one’s brand. A compelling story can indeed promote brand loyalty and increase sales as a result. While it’s a rather indirect approach as compared to more traditional advertisements, it becomes something like an investment; even if you don’t advertise your product or service directly, telling a compelling story with them can make your brand memorable.
Making your brand feel real and unforgettable with the people will prove to be beneficial in the long run. People may forget facts with time, but feelings invoked by a good narrative, especially one that can be personal, are not as easy to do away with.
If you want to make a mark on your audience today, consider building an emotional connection with them; in a time where many companies and brands are detached from their consumers, trying to bridge the gap will prove to be advantageous for you.
-Written by Roselin Manawis