Tell me a story without a single word

The goal of a good media writer is twofold:

  1. Tell me a story.
  2. Make me care.

Too often, advertising gets short shrift in this discussion because the cynical mind says the only goal in that field is to get me to buy stuff, by hook or by crook. The truth is advertising is the ultimate storytelling opportunity with a built-in feedback mechanism. It uses visual and audio elements to set a mood, tell a story and elicit a response. In some cases, the response is simple: Go out and buy this. However, in most cases, the responses are more nuanced in terms of brand loyalty and creating positive affect. In short, it can be less about “buy this” and more about “buy into this idea.”

In the media discipline, we push the idea that less is more and simplicity should be valued over complexity. Let the audience members come to their own conclusions and realize their own sense of things. “Show, don’t tell,” is the motto of the media writer.

This advertisement from State Farm does just that. It tells a story through visuals and audio cues. You get the whole point of the story without a single word. Only at the end does the company then step in to let you know, “Hey, we get you. We’re with you.”

Consider how best to tell your story in an ad as you approach your topic and your content. Remember, above all else, a good story will connect with your audience.

2 thoughts on “Tell me a story without a single word

  1. Steven Chappell says:

    Why an advertisement? Why does it have to have video and audio? Why not just a photograph? Or even a sketch if the student is artistic?

  2. vffilak says:

    It doesn’t have to be an ad, but the larger point is that we often ignore advertising when we discuss media and storytelling.

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