MK 354 Spring 2010

March 22, 2010

Economics Made Interesting

Filed under: blog #6 — carolinerichov @ 12:51 pm

Looking to strike up a dry, uninteresting conversation? Talk economics: it’s not uncommon for most people to dread the thought of the topic.  Interestingly enough, when economist Steven Levitt and “New York Times” journalist Stephen Dubner paired up to write “Freakonomics,” they were able get people to think of economics in a much different way.

InFreakonomics”, Levitt and Dubner apply economic research and analysis to link the events and problems of everyday life and turn conventional wisdom upside down.   The book is easy to read and understand: addressing interesting and unusual questions in a very accessible way.  Instead of listing off statistics and relationships that are likely to be forgotten, Levitt and Dubner use a balance of economic analysis and stories to answer questions including, “what do teachers and wrestlers have in common?,” “why do drug dealers still live with their moms?” and “what makes a perfect parent?”

In Chip and Dan Heath’s “Made to Stick,” they say “a story is powerful because it provides the context missing from abstract prose” (214).  In “Freakonomics,” Levitt and Dubner successfully take economic statistics and create entertaining stories for readers to take interest in and therefore, more easily understand.   By “putting knowledge into a framework that is more lifelike, more true to our day-to-day existence” (214), “Freakonomics” engages the reader by using stories to create a more concrete and unexpected way to view economics.


Proactiv’s Story

Filed under: blog #6 — jlptzld @ 12:45 pm

According to Heath and Heath in their book Made to Stick, telling a story fulfills the sixth aspect of what makes ideas “sticky.” In their chapter on stories the authors claim a story’s ability to put “knowledge into a framework that is more lifelike, more true to our day-to-day existence” is one of its most effective qualities (214).

Many advertising campaigns make use of this technique to try to sell a lifestyle to potential consumers—notable examples include self-improvement products. Often the advertisement’s audience hears how the promoted product changed someone’s life; these consumer testimonials are a common strategy employed by advertising campaigns. However, a story takes the testimonial one step further. Not only does the happy consumer claim the product improved their quality of life, but they highlight the significance of this change by describing their unfortunate circumstances before the advertised product positively affected them. They often provide anecdotes that emphasize how their previous condition affected their day-to-day life.

Jessica Simpson’s endorsement of Proactiv Acne Solution is a notable example of how stories can be leveraged to enhance an advertisement. These advertisements aired a few years ago when Simpson was still a “newlywed”—when she was still perceived by many to possess the successful, Hollywood lifestyle, untainted by negativity. (Since then she has been through a divorce, a flat-lining career, lost pets, many public breakups and rapid weight fluctuation.) At the time it seemed impossible for someone as successful as Jessica Simpson to struggle with their image, especially something as commonly mundane as acne. However, Proactiv made effective use of Simpson’s skin condition and invited her to explain how acne affected her life and her self-image. In fact, these advertisements made use of two of Heath and Heaths strategies, storytelling as well as the credibility derived from Simpson’s celebrity status. Simpson was able to identify with potential consumers because she had suffered from acne as they, presumably, do. Furthermore, consumers were able to trust her endorsement because consumer culture tends to place celebrities on a pedestal—if Proactiv can work for Jessica Simpson, then it might just work for others.

stories – eHarmony

Filed under: blog #6 — Tags: , , , , — marissagkelley @ 12:21 pm

The final element of the Made to Stick SUCCESs model is stories. According to Chip and Dan Heath, “…a credible idea makes people believe. An emotional idea makes people care. And…the right stories make people act” (206). Stories provide a relatable connection that draws attention and empathy, while simultaneously leaving a concrete impression in people’s minds.

One successful example of this theory is the eHarmony advertising campaign. eHarmony offers an Internet dating service through which people can sign up, sign on, and meet their match…literally. eHarmony boasts an array of compatibility tools that give the consumer the best possible chance of meeting someone that they will connect with.

To market this service, the team at eHarmony created a full-fledged campaign based around one single concept: stories. It began with a series of television commercials, in which eHarmony interviewed couples that had met on the site and were now happily in a relationship. The idea caught on quickly, and became eHarmony’s major advertising theme. On YouTube, eHarmony posts video chats that they have conducted with happy eHarmony couples, and on Facebook, couples are invited to share stories of their own.

The campaign demonstrates that the eHarmony marketing strategy was spot on for its target audience. The company realized that that there is a large population of people in the world who are unlucky in love. Finding the perfect partner is a deeply emotional and personal part of someone’s life. eHarmony had to ask themselves, “how can we make the consumer believe that eHarmony is the best answer to their quest for love?”

Its answer involved capitalizing on what the Heath brothers refer to as “the un-passive audience”.  Universally, people are constantly imagining their ideal romantic match. This involves physical traits, personality, temperament, etc. To hear eHarmony couples talking about compatibility, happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction in their partner capitalizes on existing emotions in the consumer. They begin to imagine themselves as the couples on TV: happily in a relationship with all of their worries and bad breakups behind them. Essentially, they act as the un-passive audience, relating their own lives to the eHarmony stories.

For eHarmony, the strategy worked. Their advertising campaign has made it a top competitor in the online dating service industry. By utilizing the stories of its most successful customers, the company convinces potential customers that they too can be happy and in love with just a few clicks of a mouse.

Blog six

Filed under: blog #6 — csomerville @ 12:05 pm

There’s something about watching or hearing a story about someone rising from a metaphorical fall that creates a warm feeling within us. We, the audience, are always rooting for the underdog in stories. We want to hear about the nonathletic high school kid that no one believed in who come in first at the track meet. These stories resonate within us, and the authors of “Made to Stick” explain what it is about these stories that attract us.

In their chapter about stories, the “Made to Stick” authors explain that when listening to stories, audiences tend to identify with the protagonist, which would be our nonathletic winner is the scenario above. If an audience feels akin to a particular character, the audience would like to hear that this character succeeds. What makes the success even more enjoyable, however, is that the other characters in the story didn’t expect the protagonist to succeed. The audience therefore feels inspired by the protagonist’s unexpected success because there is a feeling sympathy and understanding from the audience towards the protagonist. To illustrate an inspirational story, the authors recall Jared Fogle’s amazing weight loss plan that included a diet of Subway sandwiches. Fogle beat the odds and lost 245 pounds on his Subway diet, and inspired people across the country to do the same.

I believe I’m rarely affected by advertising, but at the beginning of the year, I saw an advertisement that did. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, I saw a Visa advertisement that told an inspirational story about the Olympic ice skater Dan Jansen. In 1988, Jansen promised his dying sister, Jane, he would win the gold medal in his competition. Only hours before the competition, Jane died. Jansen didn’t win the gold medal that year. However, six years later, Jansen did, and he when he skated a victory lap, he brought along his baby daughter, Jane. After seeing this commercial I was so overwhelmed with emotions that I had shivers down my spine. I felt inspired to keep trying at my hardest efforts because despite his losses and the passing of six years, Jansen finally won the gold medal. I still react every time I watch this ad, and I correlate these feelings with the Visa brand, which is why I think this is an effective inspirational story.

Stories: Opplysningen 1881

Filed under: blog #6 — ElizabethOstebo @ 11:59 am

Stories, like the people who tell them, come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some stories are short, while others seem never-ending. Some stories are boring, whereas other stories are wildly entertaining. And some stories have underlying teachings that can guide the audience in certain situations. According to Heath and Heath, a story that instructs the audience is essentially a simulation of a particular setting (206). The simulation is a guide for actions before actually being in the real-life situation.

The commercial for Opplysningen 1881, a Norwegian information service, acts as a quick simulation for how to use the service. Instead of instructing the audience to (1) dial 1881, (2) ask a question about anything you need to know and (3) wait for one of the 1881 employees to provide the answer, the commercial shows how a tattoo artist might use the information service. The tattoo artist calls the information service and asks how to spell “Death Metal,” which illustrates that you can call 1881 not just to get numbers and addresses, but also to ask other questions. Instead of having the commercial tell the audience, the commercial shows the audience that they can call to get help for most concerns.

Similar to the story in chapter six of Made to Stick about one teacher’s experience rather than the instructions on how to deal with problem students, the 1881 commercial is “Putting knowledge into framework that is more lifelike” (214). The audience is provided with a vivid example of how action guiding knowledge can be concrete.

Filed under: blog #6 — Tags: , — morganhowell @ 11:55 am

I know a few people that everyone seems to like. They all share a few qualities, such as being out-going and friendly, things one might expect. But more than anything else, they know how to tell a good story. It’s not only that they can actually tell an entertaining story but they can spot an entertaining story. Now, when it comes to marketing, each quality is important for a story to catch on and have influence over a target audience. A month or two ago I saw an ad in the New York Magazine that didn’t quite make the mark.

Magda Kristoff no doubt had an inspiring story to tell, and almost just as undoubtedly, she told that story to someone at the medical center. But the inspiration seems to have been lost in translation. A cancer patient, Magda had to go through chemotherapy, surgery, unimaginable pain and god knows what else. And the treatment she received helped her survive. How much of that story appears in the copy? None, really. Her story is boiled down to a point where it can just act as a transition to Langone’s state of the art facilities and exemplary patient care—simulation and inspiration are lost. “Our doctors and researchers work together to develop innovative therapies that aren’t the exception, but the rule,” is a great piece of copy, but not too useful in this context. That’s lead worthy, even worthy as being the Commander’s Intent for a whole campaign. But this campaign is story-based. Magda Kristoff is only one of 11 people whose stories are told, yet after reading her ad over and over I know very little about her experience at the Langone Medical Center.

So it’s my guess that whomever was in charge of this campaign is of the same school of thought as the Subway national marketing director who didn’t want to use Jared’s story—that you can’t sell medical care with an inspirational, emotional story. Or maybe Langone had just updated its facilities and they felt that had to be highlighted. Either way, they took a story with a challenge and connection plot and made her into a run of the mill spokeswoman with nothing unique to say.  Langone spotted a good story and watered it down with promotional mumbo jumbo when all they needed to do was convey Magda as a real and relatable person whose cancer Langone cured.

Blog #6

Filed under: blog #6, Uncategorized — Tags: — marringoodall @ 9:06 am

Puppet Casting 001

Gary walks in to an all-white room set in front of a panel of unseen casting directors; his talent is staring. Next we meet an armadillo who fails to give his name because he recognizes one of the directors from wild spring break ‘91. A joke-telling alien dressed casually in a Hawaiian shirt then greets us. Finally, a singing crab stops in the middle of his audition to answer a phone call from his wife. This is a casting call for a new adult puppet show called Stuffed and Unstrung.

The commercial introduces characters of the television series in a way that reaches beyond just an average teaser clip. The ad’s [silly/fabricated] behind-the-scenes style that illustrates the characters’ audition process makes the audience want to see where they end up and what the show is all about. Heath and Heath discuss how telling a story with “built-in drama” is much more interesting and allows an audience to “mentally test” the situation presented. The story behind the commercial engages audiences and transforms them from a “passive audience” in to curious potential viewers.

Advertisements that tell a story don’t always draw me in because they contain nuggets of wisdom or inspiration like the Jared Subway campaign. Commercials that follow the framing of Heath and Heath’s “story” strategy grab my attention because they provide in depth insight to a situation, service, or product. As an audience member, I appreciate when an advertisement goes behind-the-scenes to see how things really happen, or in the case of Stuffed and Unstrung, what would happen if puppets were real people who actually auditioned for roles. Ads like this make you feel like you are in on a secret or have been granted access to information that has been newly discovered. For me, stories ignite curiosity because you become invested in what has already happened.

Also, I LOVE puppets/muppets.

Character- Pass it on!

Filed under: blog #6 — Jackies blah-g @ 1:13 am

Just think back to the days of high school when people were categorized into cliques. The jocks, the nerds, the bandies, the cheerleaders, and the artists, are just a few that existed in the teenage world. There are many stories and memories that can be told from the interaction of the groups stated above.

In Made To Stick, the authors Heath and Heath state that “stories can almost single-handedly defeat the Curse of Knowledge. (237)” Through the progression of Heath and Heath’s book, each chapter has built upon the last to ultimately work together in the end to complete the SUCCESs model: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions, and stories. In this chapter, the connection plot is a story about people who develop a relationship that bridges a gap, whether it is racial, class, ethnic, religious, demographic, or otherwise.

The Foundation for a Better Life uses commercials to tell a story to promote better living. In the commercial, “Character – Pass it On,” the stereotypical high school clique attitude is defied. A “nerd” standing at his locker is provoked by a group of “popular guys.” One of the guys knocked the nerd’s books out of his hand and the books and papers are scattered on the floor as they continue walking and laughing. The screen shot then turns to another guy, the “jock”, sporting a letterman’s coat. The jock walks over to the nerd and helps him to pick up his books.

Within a short time period, a viewer is able to connect with the commercial and recognize the stereotypical groups. Heath states, “Stories are almost always Concrete. Most of them have Emotional and Unexpected elements.” The viewer has most likely experienced this scenario in school or has seen it in movies. The greatest part is that the commercial itself is not attempting to sell you anything. The Foundation for a Better Life has definitely created a “sticky” commercial. There are many others ones that carry different messages such as: encouragement, true beauty, and sportsmanship.

As stated by Heath and Heath, “The stories have the amazing dual power to simulate and inspire (237),” and The Foundation for a Better Life does just that.


March 21, 2010

A Google Love Story

Filed under: blog #6 — mtamayo26 @ 11:21 pm

An American student decides to study abroad in Paris. While there, he meets a French girl at a local café. Weeks of dating turns into months of a long distance relationship, which results in the American student deciding to go back to Paris permanently. The couple eventually marries and continues their life together—happily, of course.

This story is taken from a Google commercial, which ran on this years’ Super Bowl. Google told the story in an unconventional fashion, from the perspective of the young man using the Google search engine to help with his romance. A simple search of study abroad programs in Paris turns into meeting his French love, marriage, and a need to know how to assemble a crib.

According to Made to Stick, stories are teaching tools and are told to highlight unexpected, resourceful ways in which people have solved problems. This commercial shows how Google can be used to solve any problem from impressing a French girl, to finding chocolate shops in Paris, to long distance relationship advice. While Google is a big enough company to go without advertising, this commercial evokes unexpected emotions of happiness when thinking about this search engine.

Parisian Love

Filed under: blog #6 — ajblack029 @ 10:54 pm

                We hear stories every day; friends, co-workers, and even strangers have a constant need to share special moments that they have experienced or heard of. In marketing, stories offer a unique opportunity for companies to connect with their target. In Made to Stick, authors Dan and Chip Heath explain the appeal of stories: “When we read books, we have the sensation of being drawn into the author’s world. When friends tell us stores, we instinctively empathize. When we watch movies, we identify with the protagonist.” As a result of this, when consumers are presented with advertisements that feature stories, there is a higher level of engagement the ad potentially has with its target.

                In Google’s highly-acclaimed Super Bowl ad, “Parisian Love,” the audience is told the story of a young student who falls in love with a girl he meets while studying abroad. The ad chronicles the boy’s use of Google as he first searches for international programs in Paris, followed by several searches that show the development of the relationship between the boy and a charming Parisian girl he falls in love with and eventually marries. This plot falls into the category the Heath brothers classify as “the Connection plot.”

                A Connection plot is a “a story about people who develop a relationship that bridges a gap—racial, class, ethnic, religious, demographic, or otherwise.” In the case of “Parisian Love,” the young couple must bridge several gaps: a lack of knowledge, different demographics, and a language barrier between the two. Luckily for this couple, Google is here to save the day. It just so happens that every gap that we see this couple encounter is solved with the help of the world’s most popular search engine.


                Because most everyone who is able to see the ad has used Google at some point, it is extremely easy to connect with the commercial. At one point or another we have all used Google for trivial things such as, “study abroad programs Paris, France.” Heath and Heath explain that “brain scans show that when people imagine a flashing light, they activate the visual area of the brain; when they imagine something tapping on their skin, they activate the tactile areas of the brain.” It is for this reason that when anyone views this ad, it is easy to connect with the story the short spot highlights. Made to Stick also points out that “stories have the amazing dual power to simulate and to inspire.” While the story is fiction, it is easily passable as fact, stimulating the senses while inspiring to those who know the excitement of young love.

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