MK 354 Spring 2010

March 22, 2010

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.

March 17, 2010

Making the Wind Interesting

Filed under: blog #6 — Tags: , , , , — Zach Cole @ 11:19 pm

The name Epuron isn’t likely to carry a whole lot of meaning for the average person. Unless you’re a serious environmentalist, you probably don’t know that Epuron has been leading the charge for renewable energy for well over a decade. Epuron does great work, but it faced a great challenge. How could its marketers make people care about renewable energy? After all, energy isn’t really all that interesting; in fact, it’s not even tangible.

The answer to Epuron’s problem was found in Mr. W., a tall brute dressed in a dusty black suit with an odd black hat. Mr. W. was a man who had trouble connecting with people because he constantly did unpleasant things. He ruffled the finely groomed hair of pedestrians and blew sand in the eyes of children on playgrounds. People simply do not like him.

The key here is that Mr. W. does not actually exist. He is a personification of the wind in a television commercial for Epuron. Finally, Mr. W. meets a man who understands him and who understands how to use Mr. W.’s power to help, rather than annoy people. This man, of course, represents Epuron, the company that understands how to harness wind energy to help people.

According to Chip and Dan Heath, stories are great marketing tools because they guide us through a series of events as we simulate them in our minds (213). People have a natural tendency to simulate scenarios in their minds because seeing events unfold helps them obtain a greater understanding of the events. Stories simply act as a catalyst for simulation.

By using the story of Mr. W., Epuron found a way to successfully engage the viewer in a story that makes it easier to understand why wind energy is so valuable, while simultaneously raising awareness of Epuron.

Chip and Dan Heath outline three types of story plots: challenge, connection and creativity (226). The Epuron advertisement uses both connection and creativity plots to help its story unfold. Connection plots have to do with interpersonal relationships (229). The viewer is interested in Mr. W.’s plight because he/she wants to understand why Mr. W. is so different than other people. Creativity plots have to do with solving a long-standing puzzle. The man who personifies Epuron has a creative breakthrough when he figures out how to relate to – or use – Mr. W. It is this side of the story that connects the plot to Epuron’s marketing objectives.

The Epuron advertisement is unexpected, and concrete, but without its story it would fail to engage an audience, and wind energy would still be just boring, old, wind energy.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.