Katie Ewer
Apr 11, 2017

Do as I say, not as I do

Why storytelling and 'story doing' need to line up.

Do as I say, not as I do

There’s quite a bit of talk these days about story doing (as opposed to storytelling). The theory is that for brands to succeed in the 21st century, they need to move from passive narrative to active drama; from one-way communication to participation and involvement; from telling to showing. So less of the epic 60-second spots, and more propelling people into the stratosphere. You know, that sort of thing.

But it’s not a case of choosing one over another. Brands need to do both, and they need to do so coherently, so that their walk lines up with their talk. If they don’t, they lack credibility. So Red Bull gives you wings? Yes, I can believe that. So Audi believes in equality? Not so much.

When what you do doesn’t line up with what you say, it’s what cleverer people than me describe as a dissonance between ‘signaling’ and ‘messaging’. The most famous example, repeated in barrooms and boardrooms frequently, is the fact that someone who says they are funny is nothing of the sort. Your message may be ‘I am funny’ but the signal received by your audience is ‘No you’re not, but you are an idiot’.

In life, there are certain things you don’t get to award yourself, and one of those is the title “funny”. Nor do you get to introduce yourself as ‘cool’. And if you happen to be a brand, you don’t get to say when you are ‘iconic’, ‘premium’ or ‘crafted’ either. Those are titles others award to you, and they can only be earned, not bought.

There are countless examples of brands that break this cardinal rule, and you don’t need to look far to find one—mainstream beers that purport to be ‘crafted’, multinational coffee chains that wax lyrical about their ‘artisanal’ blends; or humdrum, ho-hum condiments that try to persuade us they’re ‘premium’, just because the word appears on the front label in a frilly type.

I think it all comes down to authenticity. Not authenticity in the widely misused sense of ‘roughed up and hand made’, but authentic in the sense of being ‘true to yourself’. There’s a quote we’re fond of referencing at JKR from Oscar Wilde which is ‘Be yourself, everyone else is taken’. Sometimes, ‘saying’ a little less can say a lot more.

Katie Ewer is strategy director at JKR (Jones Knowles Ritchie) in Singapore.


Related Articles

Just Published

2 days ago

Purpose, laughs, and boppable tunes: Spikes jury ...

SPIKES ASIA X CAMPAIGN: Presidents and members of several Spikes Asia juries share the top trends they spotted in the jury Zoom rooms, with video examples.

2 days ago

Crash Course: How to tell engaging short-form stories

To round off a week of creativity-themed content during Spikes Asia X Campaign festival, this Crash Course provides useful tips on how to build story arcs and create thumb-stopping campaigns for short-form.

2 days ago

Lessons from Tesla, Apple and yoga (yes, yoga) in ...

SPIKES ASIA X CAMPAIGN: Creatives need to drive relevance for sustainable options, instead of virtue-signalling about sustainability, argues Gulshan Singh of FCB Interface.

2 days ago

Spikes Asia Awards 2021: Campaign's contenders 3

As the juries make their final selections ahead of the March 1 winners announcement, Campaign Asia-Pacific's editorial team has once again scoured through the 2021 shortlist to pick out the work we expect to win.