Is it me... or is storytelling back to take its commercial crown?

Cartoon 13 July 2012 Happily Ever After.jpg

Operation Gold Lion is complete. The Twitter feeds have run dry and the Facebook status updates are returning to their mundane normality. I’ve followed and stalked them all – and it’s been great. A few too many posted pictures of your cocktails, sure, but I guess that’s the downside of “not being there”.

Ah, don’t listen to me. I missed that Cannes sun, really… While you were quaffing and gossiping in its gorgeous presence, I was grafting and pitching. With results, mind. Shooting back to back seems to be the new vogue. Why plan a media schedule with gaps when you can cram it all into the same week.

Exhausting Facebook check-ins and candid-cocktail-updates aside, I thought we had a great Cannes. It was particularly satisfying to see so many winners in the narrative arena. And not just because I was harping on about it last month – he says, smugly reclining in his chair.

Numerous narrative ads were recognised featuring living creatures: bears, pigs et al; but sadly not a zombie in sight. I think this puts me one blog point above some other pundits.

Now I know Cannes isn’t all about broadcast commercials. Far from it. The stats show that a very high percentage was outside the broadcast arena. However, as I discussed last month, the mediums might have changed but the criteria for winning remains all about story.

Consciously or subconsciously, creatives, lecturers, and judges can’t help but be seduced by engaging stories. Even in this mobile digital age, a well-executed narrative will still grab attention. Just ask Sheila Leddy:

“…storytelling through film can be a powerful tool to engage audiences. A film, and the story it tells, can create a greater awareness of complex problems…”

People may laugh at the ‘three little pigs’, but they laugh because the story’s content and twisted ‘mash-up’ narrative is clearly about a bigger and more complex story. And, let’s be honest, no one buys a product based solely on what it looks like. There has to be a connection.

Even branded content is beginning to embrace story. About time too. I remember thinking the Olivio campaign would make a great piece of content with it’s simple brand message of longevity. But what did I know? I was just a grunt!

Now that my grunting day are over I have to say that I think the jury got it wrong during one exchange: "Am I judging the quality of the production, the entertainment value or the ad experience?" one juror enquired. The chair's answer: "Judge the idea." How do you judge an idea? There’s no criterion. To me they should be judging the story. Did it move them? Did it engage them? Did it even mean anything to them? At least with these criteria we have a benchmark – otherwise what are we all doing out here?

Of course, the 2012 Cannes Lions were about more than just story. Character and the investigation of character also featured heavily in both work and lectures.

Take a peek at this, for example The Millennials

Inspirational. A brand-new generation of consumers with a different story to tell. Or, hang on, maybe that old adage is true – no matter which generation you belong to, universal stories are still the best. Perhaps that’s why the Inbetweeners Movie was so funny. Well, whatever your point of view there are 2.4 billion Millennials out there. So you best not ignore them.

So there you have it, from my Cyber-Croisette I witnessed stories dominate proceedings at the Lions. Here here. I’ve made a living out of emotionally hooking audiences with narrative and character. Long may the renaissance continue!

And stories were also dominating my day planner. I’m pleased to announce that I’m moving back into screenwriting. It had to be done. It’s been too long since I saw the words CUT TO or in my case SMASH CUT TO on my computer screen.

Watch this (newly revamped) space and my (newly revitalised) social media arena for (new) work in the near future. As we saw in Cannes, you can’t keep a good storyteller down!

Carl Prechezer