Digital Storytelling: Simple and Effective Ways to Create the Right Perspective for Your Business from Leo Burnett



“With every great brand there’s always a great strategist and there’s always a great story.” — Raquelle Zuzarte, Founder, EquityProjectForAll


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For leading brands today, connection is key to a successful advertising campaign. If consumers feel they have a relationship with a business, then they will invest and make it their own – most probably for life.

During #SMWNYC representatives from some of the world’s leading brands including Johnson & Johnson, Leo Burnett, Diageo, and EquityProjectForAll came together to discuss their tactics for winning the hearts and minds of consumers with stories that penetrate and reverberate long after the campaign is done.

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Leveraging stories behind brands that have transformed their marketing techniques, the panelists identified ways to craft social content based on platform, audience, and campaign objective, how to integrate brand purpose authentically into social strategies, and ways to amplify your brand’s story through VR, AR, and AI to fuel engagement.

Here are three simple but effective perspectives shared during the conversation.

Do the research and create meaning.

Karuna Rawal and the #AlwaysLikeAGirl Campaign by Always.

The clever campaign shows various demographics in America being asked to do something like a girl.

All give accurate imitations of what society implies girls to do – running with arms waving – fighting with eyes closed – throwing with their wrists flared.

It highlights the female cliché and generates the perspective of the women; their audience.

“We found out through the data that typically, women lose their confidence as a result of puberty,” said Karuna Rawal, President, Groupe Client Lead, Leo Burnett.

The advert then asks females aged between 7 and 11 to do something like a girl. At this point, the young girls fight with as tough as they physically can; run as fast as they physically can; and throw like as hard as they physically can, expressing courageous confidence.

“We had the opportunity to connect with our purpose – empowering women – while bringing it together with the data – how girls confidence plummets through puberty,” added Rawal.

It just goes to show how successful a campaign can be by connecting with the perspective of the consumer.

Rawal described how women grew tired of seeing a product demonstrated to them as a way of getting them to invest.

Don’t be fake.

Neutrogena pioneered the use of the no-retouch image to show how effective their product is.

Paired with partnerships with selected celebrity, Neutrogena could leverage its brand identity to generate effective results.

By showing the perspective of their consumer through the gaze of celebrity, it generated an appeal that their consumer could trust.

The secret was in confronting what was already known.

“The goal was to really leverage our purpose and speak it through our advertising campaign” said Edlynne Laryea, Director, Global Neutrogena Digital Transformation and Sustainability, Johnson & Johnson.

If consumers know that what they see being advertised on television is a lie, then that insult isn’t going to translate into sales.

This ethos was put to the test in Neutrogena’s Valentine’s Day campaign where two actors without a script simply had some fun with the product. Simple, but effective.

“It was really important for us to tell an authentic story without any pretense. They weren’t holding up the bottle or saying use Neutrogena,” explained Laryea.

The Honest Story.

How does a Russian sounding vodka appeal to the US? By telling the honest story.

“In the US the perception is something we really have to work on,” said Jay Sethi, Vice President, Smirnoff & Nurture Brands Portfolio, Diageo.

The man behind the infamous Smirnoff ad ‘Made in America: but we’d be happy to talk about Russia under oath.’

Brands, especially old brands like Smirnoff, have long histories. More often than not, this can be great for companies – American brands emphasis their Americanness in the act of patriotism; and why not?

For Smirnoff however, history wasn’t in their favor, or at least for the time being.

Smirnoff was an American company with a Russian name – as a result of American immigration Smirnoff has a Russian name. Their history pointed out that only the affluent drank Smirnoff in Russia and they wanted to keep it that way.

“Russia just wanted Smirnoff to be for them, they wanted it to be for the Tsar’s, it was the best Vodka you could have, and they wanted it for themselves. Our founders said we want it to be for the people,” explained Sethi.

Telling the story of how Smirnoff was created in America because Russia opposed their distribution, creates a positive perspective for the American consumer and flips what was first thought of as a negative history, into a promising one.

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