What Does Pixar Know About Simple, Compelling Storytelling that Most Marketers, Advertisers, and Brands Don't?
A Lot! But, Skype and Google are Damn Good Pixar Storytelling Students Based on Their Viral Reunion Videos. Skype and Google recently published these two (2) brilliant, moving, and emotional stories on their respective YouTube Channels:
- The Born Friends Family Project -- A Unique Friendship Brought Together by Skype: ~1,952,000 views as of this post's publication date.
- Google Search: Reunion: ~2,758,000 views as of this post's publication date.
Pixar's 22 Rules of Storytelling Drive the Skype and Google Reunion Videos
The 22 Pixar Rules of Storytelling Visualized. Here the link to Pixar's 22 Rules of Story Telling Visualized written by Joe Berkowitz and published by Fast Company (hat tip to Ann Handley). You can also find Pixar's 22 Rules of Storytelling Visualized from this Slideshare presentation by Gaby 8A:
Which Pixar Storytelling Rules Do You Recognize in the Skype and #googlereunion Videos?
Let's compare notes. I see:
Rule #1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
Rule #2: You gotta keep in mind what's interesting to you as an audience, not what's fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
Rule #4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day, ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally, ___.
Rule #5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You'll feel like you're losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
Rule #6: What is your character good at, comforatable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
Rule #7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard. Get yours working up front.
Rule #13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likeable as you write, but it's poison to the audience.
Rule #14: Why must you tell THIS story. What's the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That's the heart of it?
Rule #15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty leads credibility to unbelieveable situations.
Rule #16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What if they don't succeed, stack the odds agains.
Rule #21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters can't just write 'cool'? What would make YOU act that way?
Rule #22: What's the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
The Art of the Pitch: Simple and Economic Equals Competitive Advantage
I, Marketers, Advertisers and Brands Fail 95% of the Time on Simplicity. Rules #5 and #22 are highlighted for a reason because I believe "simple" is a MASSIVE Differentiator.
But, Simple is Hard.
Work Your Ass Off to Craft and Deliver Simple Stories and Themes. I'm reading and studying Peter Coughter's brilliant book, The Art of The Pitch. I learned about it through this Mitch Joel podcast: SPOS #296 -- The Art of the Pitch with Peter Coughter.
Listen to Mitch Joel and Peter Coughter's Conversation and Invest in Art of The Pitch. If you're in the business of selling ideas (as I am), your career depends on reading/studying The Art of the Pitch. I'd selfishly prefer others in the professional services industry don't read Peter's book.
Why? I want the competitive advantages he teaches all to myself.
Peter Mentions "Simple" or "Simplicity" in The Art of the Pitch Almost 30 times. Here are key quotes reinforcing the importance of "simple":
(page 133) "Simplicity is what we seek. In the visual as well as the oral expression of our ideas."
(page 157) "Your presentation should be so simple that you can boil it down to just a few sentences. And notice that I said simple, not simplistic."
(page 32) "The audience's ability to assimilate and retain information is limited. You're only going to be able to make two or three kepy points. So make them and make them memorable. You need to this in as simple, spare and elegant a way as possible."
Skype and Google "Keep It Tight"
I Stole That Line From Ann Handley. Ann's post, Lessons From Skype, Your Story is About People (Not Technology) explains this concept better than I can:
"As my buddy Tim Washer and I espouse, the number-one rule for video is to Keep It Tight. In other words, respect the audience’s time, and don’t expect them to invest more than 60 to 90 seconds in your online video."
"But in the case of this particular video, the story of Sarah and Paige was so compelling that I sat through the whole three minutes of it."
"As you know, an Internet minute is like a dog year… so a 3-minute video is really seven times as long."
Multiple and Complex Backstories in Both Videos are "Kept Tight." Dan Lyons published this amazing post on the HubSpot Blog analyzing why The Google Reunion video is so compelling. More importantly, Dan describes the important historical context between Pakistan and India that's seamlessly weaved into the storyline.
The filmakers captured the essence of that complex, historical context simply. Understanding the context of that history lesson is one of many reasons why we root for and identify with the #googlereunion characters.
Simple Stories to Make Us Cry
I published this January 2012 post: Google's Marketing Reinvention -- Tell Us Stories That Make Us Cry to analyze Google's use of video to reinvent its corporate image. Lorraine Twohill, Google's Global Head of Marketing, described her goals to transform consumer perceptions of Google as "a place of cold engineers:"
"If we don't make you cry, we fail. It's about emotion, which is bizarre for a tech company."
Emotional Connection. If Skype and Google continue creating and publishing these compelling, simple stories, we'll watch them. These brands may even earn our long-term trust about the roles they play in our everyday lives.
"And, what's wrong with that ..."
Tony Faustino is a marketing and corporate strategist. He writes about how The Internet reinvents marketing strategy for organizations and individuals in his marketing strategy blog, Social Media ReInvention. Follow his tweets @tonyfaustino or circle him on Google+.