Tucked among a bevy of Super Bowl ads that mostly featured stupid and/or pantless men was a spot by Google that stood out because it told a story and did so in a way that was true to the brand.
Many critics put the Google ad near the top of their lists of this year’s best. The ad reinforces the visually recognizable Google brand, but it’s the storytelling that really makes it work. Through a series of search terms, we follow the story of the unseen user as he moves to Paris to study, falls in love and courts a French girl, marries and looks forward to the birth of a baby. All in less than 60 seconds.
As I’ve written before, storytelling is among the most powerful techniques commmunicators have at our disposal. People are drawn to stories about people because we see ourselves in the drama. We also commit stories to memory more readily than a dry recitation of facts.
In a recent interview for ContentWise magazine, which I edit, my friend and fellow consultant Steve Crescenzo hits on what makes for a compelling story: “Real people. There is real drama in most organizations. There is conflict. There are challenges. There are wins and losses and winners and losers. … The best stories always involve real people talking about real life. No buzzwords, no jargon, no spin. Just real-life stories from the people who have lived them.”
He adds that a good story can be told in any medium. “Some people think storytelling automatically means longer pieces,” Steve says. “That doesn’t have to be the case. You can tell a great story in a couple of paragraphs for a marketing brochure. You can tell a compelling tale in two screens on a blog. You give a good communicator a vehicle, any vehicle, and they can find the stories that fit the vehicle’s formula.”
That’s exactly what the creative minds at Google did. The result is a story that illustrated what the product is all about and that was told through the use of the product. It was brilliant storytelling that was made for TV.