Sunday, March 1, 2015

Narratives work, political parties in Canada pay attention to your story

 As we move into an election year in Canada, our political parties would be well advised to read and heed the following white paper, “On the Road to a New Effectiveness Model,” (you can purchase it from the ARF here) put out in 2007 by the The Advertising Research Foundation

The upshot of the ARF et al. study was that advertisements which tell a convincing or engaging story more effectively make a positive impression on viewers than those that focus on positioning a product in terms of its benefits. Max Kalehoff insists that the real lesson here is not about advertising effectiveness but about brand effectiveness. Specifically, he says, brands need compelling foundation narratives that connect with people by distilling and embodying that brand’s essence. So the party that pays attention to the idea that their brand is best for Canada, will have a good shot at winning the next election. 
The main findings were:
  • Ads that tell a branding story (e.g. a Mastercard ad showing a father taking his son to a baseball game) work better than ads that focus on product positioning.
  • Not all narrative ads work.
  • Ads where the narrative is unimaginative and boring don’t work (e.g. A United Airlines spot that showed an emotional story of a businessman returning home)
  • Ads where the narrative ties in with the brand work better than ads that don’t.
  • Narrative ads where the audience got involved in the story (e.g. Budweiser's "Whassup" campaign) worked better than ads where the audience remained passive, (e.g. Miller Lite low-carb ads that essentially just said, "We're better than the other guys.)
  • Narrative humor could be effective. Eighty-four percent of respondents said the humor worked well in Southwest Airlines' "Want to get away" ads such as a woman accidentally destroying a man's medicine cabinet while snooping.
  • Ads where the narrative is distracting don’t work. For instance, a Nissan didn’t work: at the outset, it seems as though a couple is talking about sex, but in fact they are talking about the car. The audience however never made the transition, having reacted negatively to the conversation about sex.
Ultimately story-telling ads generate effectiveness by engagement, rather than by repetition or tonnage

I wonder how many will pay attention, very few I imagine. Bad habits die hard, even in the face of strong analytic evidence to the contrary.  Studies by themselves don’t lead to action. Action will only happen when the findings of the study are communicated in a story

Steven Harper is very good at  telling a story that ties into his message. The story right now is Canada is at war and we need a Warrior to save us from the enemy. We need to give the Warrior the tools he needs to defeat the enemy and we need to trust him to do this without taking away our freedom. 

The problem is that we are not at war, our warriors have the tools they need to defeat the enemy now, but they do not have the money to pay for those tools, due to budget cuts by Mr. Harper and his party. The problem is that the Canadian people have bought into the idea that we are at war, with this new enemy. 

The opposition needs to create its own story and move away from the story of war and move us into the story of the economy and how they can give us hope. People don't vote for a party to replace the ruling party easily. They need a reason and the party that creates a story that gives us hope for a better future will win the hearts and the minds of the public.

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