There are good TV adverts and then there are bad ones. Bad ones aren’t necessarily the ones that make you cringe or that you didn’t particularly like, but rather the ones you simply don’t remember.
If you take a moment to think about the TV adverts that have stuck in your memory over the years, the likelihood is that the first ones to come to mind will have involved a storyline.
Whether the story is contained in one advert or features a continuation of multiple storylines there is a reason that this technique is so effective- it creates an emotional connection.
Storytelling through TV advertising can help you create that all important emotional connection with consumers so they truly remember your product and service.
One such ‘continuous’ storyline can be seen in the BT adverts. From the original BT Broadband ‘Family Ad’ and the ‘wedding’ episode right through to the latest BT Infinity version ‘Welcome to Flat 6’, BT have created emotional connections with their viewers through a continuous storyline.
Whilst the current ‘Flat 6’ adverts don’t elicit the same popularity as the original family ads, we can disregard this ‘Flat 6’ as a kind of spin-off series; which are never quite as good are they?
But this doesn’t necessarily mean the longevity storytelling TV ads deliver is a bad thing. On the contrary, research shows that an ad which runs for three years delivers an average of a 140% uplift in profits.
This isn’t to say that longevity equals success, it is probably more reflective of the fact that the quality of an advert ensured its longevity, but the majority of adverts that run for so long often involve a storytelling element.
This is a correlation that can’t be denied, whether it’s BT’s family ads, Compare the Market’s Compare the Meerkat or the frustratingly enduring Go Compare advert, having a storyline gives the good, the bad and, let’s be honest, the ugly a chance to succeed.
This isn’t to say the advert has to be ongoing. A story can last 30 seconds and sometimes it is all the more effective for doing so. Think Guinness’ Basketball Commercial or John Lewis’ emotive annual Christmas ad.
But why are such adverts so effective?
The fact is that storytelling enables us to make an emotional connection. Whether it’s a 30 second advert, a novel, a TV Show or film, is irrelevant if the storyline is emotive we’ll relate to it.
Now you may wonder how an advert such as Go Compare fits in to this category. The advert is awful and all it does is irritate you…
Interestingly the emotion doesn’t have to be positive. A study of the top hits of the past fifty years by the University of Nebraska, found that the key recurring themes included: “Loss, desire, aspiration, breakup, pain, inspiration, nostalgia, rebellion, jaded, desperation, escapism and confusion were all topics that came up again and again.”
This may seem a bit depressing, and the antithesis of what most marketers will suggest, but it highlights the fact that eliciting emotion is crucial to a successful TV advert.
Interestingly, if you were to study why things go viral, as BuzzSumo did recently, you would find exactly the opposite emotions work best. With awe, laughter, amusement and joy ranked top.
So it’s clear people yearn for an emotional connection and storytelling can create deliver that, hence the success of adverts that use the technique.