Often times, brands make the mistake of trying to tell their own story by burying consumers in details about their products and why they should buy them without framing that information in a meaningful context. In doing so, agencies tend to highlight numbers and figures in order to convince prospects to act, think, and feel a certain way. The problem is this style of communication feels disingenuous. And even worse, it’s easily forgettable because their brand and product details aren’t presented in a memorable way. It’s not presented as a story. Research shows that information presented as a story is 22 times more memorable than facts presented with no context. Think back to high school. Odds are you don’t remember the specific formula to calculate gravity (if you do, gold star!) – but you do remember the story of Rosa Parks refusing to give up her bus seat. You imagine it; you feel it; you connect to it.
Why? Because it’s what they do- music artists tell stories and establish authenticity through their lyrics, social media, and personal persona. Programs that utilize this method, by leveraging the voice of an artist, entertainer, or influencer, are able to purposefully weave brand essence into the campaign story- allowing the brand to come to life in a colorful way.
In 2016, The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development was on a mission to increase millennial tourism to the state. There are lots of great attractions and city itineraries that the State could promote in the hopes that consumers would latch on and want to travel. But how would the travel guide bullet points connect with consumers enough to invest time and money in traveling to Tennessee? Through a campaign called ‘The Soundtrack of America. Made In Tennesseee’, the State partners with music artists to tell the story of Tennessee. In Fall 2016, the State tapped country music superstar Garth Brooks as their storyteller. In a four week campaign, Garth told the story of Tennessee through a short form content series- highlighting seven different locations in Tennessee and the part they played in his success story. Suddenly, Bristol, Tennessee became more than just the location of the Motor Speedway- it was highlighted as the birthplace of country music. Cookeville was more than just a drive thru town and became the place where Garth secured his record deal. By storytelling through the power of music, the State of Tennessee went beyond the ‘product promise’ and authentically connected with consumers.
To truly connect with consumers, a campaign must go beyond the ‘product promise’. Connecting is the primary goal of storytelling. By telling an authentic story, you earn the trust of the consumer; and you must earn trust to connect. The story is told, trust is earned, and a connection is made.