Creative storytelling built on insights to win over time-poor audience

June 2015

Content has proliferated and audiences are in the driving seat. How can brands win the attention of time-poor consumers in a content-rich environment? Google Director of Consumer Marketing for EMEA, Graham Bednash says that in spite of all the changes in communication and media, there is no substitute for great storytelling based on solid insights.

The fundamentals of great creative work never change - you have to find interesting, surprising ways of connecting with people and encourage them to spend time with your brand. But what’s clearly changed is how much time people have available. Attention scarcity is a big, big issue, which is making it harder and harder to cut through.

People are editors now; we call them viewers, readers and users, but they’re actually ruthless editors. With a mobile, they can just press stop and put it in their pocket. And with so much content and so many channels, how do you cut through and connect with people - how do you connect with a picky editor?

You’ve got to do something that becomes part of popular culture. It needs to add value to their lives in some way. It must be interesting, entertaining and ideally useful. To do that, you have to have a strong insight that’s rooted in the brand.

Because technology is reinventing the way people experience ideas, the other key thing is to create work where the media and creative ideas are developed in parallel. For me, this is the best way to ensure impact and creative innovation.

Watching and snacking on YouTube is now an everyday habit.

I like ideas where technology gives people an experience rooted in a brand idea. For example, Wieden + Kennedy’s Honda R campaign enabled viewers to experience two different stories about the Honda R. It was based on the insight that men don’t want to accept they’re suburban dads, so the campaign let you experience the two sides of the guy’s life - routine and adventure. You could press R on the computer to see him delivering the kids to school and then press R again to see him in a car chase.

There are now so many amazing options for storytelling – long-form content, snackable, short-form content, BuzzFeed-style ‘tabloid’ content. Look at YouTube; watching and snacking on YouTube is now an everyday habit - that wasn’t the case even two years ago. I think the most interesting question now is how do you create really powerful content on a mobile, how do you get people to spend time with you on a mobile?

The thing I would advise someone starting off in the creative industry today is to ‘think like a journalist’. Because journalists know how to earn attention. Journalists know how to create content that connects to culture, that’s relevant, has an insight, a centre, a structure that draws people in. Journalists know how to create content at speed, and most critical of all, they understand that Social has to be built in to everything they do.