How to Tell Stories Buyers Will Remember

By Richard Fouts | April 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

By the time you read this blog post, over 12 million people will have viewed The Big Leap on YouTube. Lacoste’s ad illustrates what consumer marketers often do so well:  tell stories that tap into emotionally-filled memories. 

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Memory, after all, is the crux of brand awareness

Often, you remember a brand because a marketer told you a story that was interesting enough, moving enough, or startling enough … to create a memory.  Moreover, tales that bring a strong human emotion to the surface are the ones we remember (and share) the most.

But interestingly enough, emotions aren’t feelings.

Rita Carter, author of Mapping the Mind, writes, “Emotions are not feelings at all but a set of body-rooted survival mechanisms that have evolved to turn us away from danger and propel us forward to things that may be of benefit.”

Our navigation through life’s obstacle course – filled with danger and joy – can be a wild ride. For many, a deliberate ride into danger (e.g., speeding down the freeway in our new BMW) delivers a rush, by releasing chemicals such as dopamine into our brain.

Two proven memory makers

The brilliance of Lacoste is that it simultaneously weaves us in and out of two states we are likely to remember most: joy and danger.  Lacoste marketers employs a second technique, the metaphor, to seal the deal.

Hence, our star’s dangerous leap from a skyscraper interleaves with his leap across a table to kiss a young woman for the first time. The metaphor works beautifully. Our story’s hero throws caution to the wind. His first kiss creates a magnetic field so powerful it plunges the two of them into midair. Our lead character (actor, Paul Hamy) plays the sport of life and wins. And who doesn’t remember the first time they kissed someone they were attracted to, the first time? Along with the memory of the anxiety that likely preceded it?

Marketers love metaphors. When a marketer told me how many hackers exist in the world, it didn’t really register until he said “it’s the equivalent of New York City’s population.”  

When Marketo CEO Phil Fernandez (at Marketing Nation in San Francisco this week) noted that $135 Billion will be spent on digital marketing in the US alone, he followed it with, “that’s the size of many national economies.”  That created a memory (evidenced by subsequent tweets).

Tap into a familiar memory to create a new memory 

Lacoste creates a universal metaphor we can all relate to — through one of our own, highly personal memories. But the beauty of Lacoste’s story is its emotional ying-yang. Its metaphor, that “life is a beautiful sport” illustrates how determination can trump fear. How fight can trump flight. And how the reward of joy motivates us to take on danger. After all, playing it safe doesn’t deliver nirvana. Playing it safe delivers mediocrity. In life, it’s the contrasts we remember.

So they next time you market your product through a story, try creating a new memory through a metaphor — that taps into  a familiar memory.  And remember: stories that illustrate why a difficult path to joy was worth the risk, are the ones we remember most.

And, it you check out Why Campaigns Go Viral, (Gartner subscription required) you’ll see more evidence of these techniques at work.

For a look behind the scenes of Lacoste’s Life is a Beautiful Sport, directed by Seb Edwards (with BETC Paris) and actors Paul Hamy and Anna Brewster, go here.

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