Recently, in the aftermath of one of our commercials becoming a viral sensation, I got a call from the director who said he had been contacted by many clients saying “make me something just like that!”
As an aside, this short-handing of going straight to the director has always confounded me. Why wouldn’t you go straight to the agency that wrote the script around the killer insight.
Anyway, the commercials were all made with great budget and fanfare – then, predictably, each fell flat. Because in their covetous zeal to copy our magic, they completely missed the fundamentals behind our success.
Our characters were imperfect and flawed! There was conflict before there was resolution!!
“Wow, straight A’s on your report card! Let’s go to McDonalds!!” will never be the same story as “…a C on your report...(tension, where is this going?) “That’s a solid improvement on your D-, we’re going to McDonalds!”
What this teaches is that there is no joyous resolution without conflict, without tension. As someone once said to me: “You cannot know happiness unless you know a little sadness.”
Simple in practice. And arguably a whole lot harder in the boardroom, where fighting for less than perfect people acting on behalf of your brand can be an uphill corporate battle.
But a battle worth fighting, let me assure you.
So keep it real and harness the power of authenticity. It’ll help you create the perfect story, because it will remind you of what we are as humans.
Perfectly imperfect ourselves.
Neil McOstrich is the Chief Storytelling Officer at Cleansheet