Advertising should be about enabling stories to be told

A few weeks ago I did a talk about the ‘Rebirth of Advertising‘ at TEDxLiege. Rebirth was the theme of the TEDx event that day and I wanted to bring a story that proves it is actually a great time to be in advertising today. That is if you don’t think about advertising as the intrusive, obnoxious thing that interrupts interesting experiences. Here’s how I define advertising:

“Advertising should be about enabling stories to be told. Whether those are brand stories, product stories, consumer stories, … Why would I listen to anyone if it they don’t have something interesting to say?”

Also when I started developing the talk I wanted it to have no advertising in it, I wanted it to excite people about a business I am excited about without showing entertaining work. You can see the 18′ talk in the video below.

Thanks to the team at Duval Guillaume for trying to push the boundaries of advertising every single day and special thanks to Mike Arauz (Undercurrent) whose thinking influenced me quite a bit lately. Thanks Mike!

Do you know why you do what you do?

Check out this presentation from Simon Sinek at TEDxPugetSound, asking if you know the ‘know why’ you do business as it is the biggest reason why people will get inspired by your brand. Many of us know what we do, or how we do it… but do do we know why?

It’s an important question we ask our clients at the agency as well, a question of which Guillaume Van der Stighelen talks about a lot in his book ‘Hero Brand’ (unfortunately only available in Dutch). Here’s his take on the video:

“Companies love their know how. They are very proud of it. So proud that it often is the focus in their advertising. “Look how well I’m good at doing this. Much better than my competitor.” But in communications, consumers aren’t that much seduced by those kind of arguments. They are much more interested in your intentions.

In the book “Hero Brand”, I have explained the parallels between becoming a public hero and becoming a brand. One of the things we learn from heroes is that they rarely talk about how good they are. You never heard Superman say: “look at my biceps! I am so strong! I can lift a building!”. Nobody ever heard Einstein say: “I am much better at inventing theories about the universe than anybody else!”. Real heroes talk about something else. They talk about why. Why the things they do are important for a better world.”