November 7, 2008

The Plot Is In The Story

In a world of content, product placement, infomercials, advertorials, and other integrated models,
perhaps it's time to get back to simply telling stories.

Every year, one of the big stories surrounding the Super Bowl is how much it costs to buy a 30 commercial during the game. Last year, the price was $2.7 Million. Think about that. Think about your company. Can you or your company afford over two and a half million dollars for a 30-second event? That doesn’t include production costs so lob a few extra bucks on the tab.

Glorida Goodale writes in a recent blog post that we need to “forget product placement – that's so 20th century. Even product integration is passé. Advertisers these days want to do far more than just place BMWs, Manolo Blahnik shoes, and other luxury items within reach of favorite TV and movie characters. They want to create entire worlds of consumption.”

You may remember receiving a copy of the “banned” 90 second X-Box commercial a few years ago. I received it seven times in a two day period. It was shocking how broadcasters had refused to air this and the community seemed outraged. They were so outraged that the “banned” commercial was shared amongst millions of people. These people watched the “banned” commercial on their computers and portable devices instead of their television screens.

How dare those broadcasters ban such a thing and we all rallied around the floundering Seattle software firm to “fight the man”. It was not a staged or calculated event, nah.

YouTube is consistently in the top five most visited websites on the face of the earth. This space is jammed with material that doesn’t see the traditional light of day. Shocking.

BMW has been the sole underwriter of one of the most wonderful visits in cyberspace – – and they do it through wickedly cool visuals (not “commercials”) that compliment the content, not interrupt it.

Goodale talks about product plots – another concept that has been going on for years but only now starting to gain traction amongst content providers, producers and companies like BMW, TED, and Microsoft.

What’s important is you must have a story before you dive in the deep end of storytelling. This is not about plunking your product into some backdrop and calling it a plot. Go back to making commercials or another traditional concept route until you can utilize this wonderful integrated option.

Goodale cites this as; “the heady days of brand integration and immersive commercial environments.”

When you are embracing what seems like a new idea, you can’t expect everyone to nod their heads and join in. But that is not enough of a reason to stop.

Mass traditional media has its place and there is audience for it. But we are building swiftly, evolving rapidly, consuming wildly, and multi-platforming constantly. And this is not a specific demographic issue.

Anyone toiling in content generation, marketing, production, advertising or promotion who thinks the “we’ll be right back after this” model will not continue to erode should be prepared to one day utter the phrase;

“What happened!?!”


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