Category Archives: Storytelling

Tell me a story!

They say storytelling and advertising go hand in hand. But I believe storytelling and LIFE are glued together.

To persuade your parents that you ARE actually sleeping at a friend’s house and not at your boyfriend’s – storytelling.

To excuse yourself for not being able to present today – storytelling.

To tell your wife why you didn’t have time to wash the dishes but had time to see your buddies – storytelling.

All in all – to intrigue people on a daily basis – storytelling.

People don’t have time to be bored. Busy people.  They crave excitement, dynamism and surprise.

Almost every little girl and boy I knew in my childhood had a list of questions they were asking to potential ‘relationship’ candidates. As children don’t know the shackles of society and norm, the questions and the answers went as follows:

‘Do you like cats?’  ‘Cats? They are super furry and disgusting! (broken hopes, off the list)

‘Do you like cars?’ ’Why are you asking? Do you have a car? You can’t have a car, you are too little! (‘She speaks too much. And she called me little.’ Off the list)

Some were taking it to another level:

‘Do you believe in God?’ ‘No, I’d rather believe in the Devil. I’m the Devil himself’ (a miserably failed attempt for a witty flirt)

My relationship entry test was just a request: ‘Tell me a story.’ Logical! I haven’t read the common fairy tales till the age of 8. I was brought up with tailor-made stories. My Father would suddenly stop and ask me: ‘So what do you think happens to Mother Pitta bread and her 5 children Pitta Crumbles?’

So you can imagine the horrified faces of my potential boyfriend candidates. Most of them wisely ran away. Those who stayed to struggle were a few and weren’t blessed with a generous sprinkle of magic storytelling dust. Some learned with time, some were sucked in the supermassive black hole. Yup – that’s what happens to people who can’t tell a story. Remember Scheherazade? I believe she had the two qualities it takes to be a great storyteller – imagination and discipline. Imagine telling a story every night for 1001 nights. She must have come from a military family…

——–

When I found the Man who asked me to tell him stories – all fell into place.

‘Tell me the story about the mischievous squirrel Rally’

‘The squirrel Rally had lived divinely until she got bogged down in gambling with nuts. Her inappropriate jokes weren’t perceived as ‘sweet’ from the severe croupiers and the anteater gamblers.  One day, they caught her cheating on the animal-friendly roulette and brought the case to court. The judge – a respectable, slim pig, had just finished its muesli breakfast. He examined critically the mischievous squirrel Rally and sentenced her to a special kind of imprisonment:

‘I have been watching you closely for years. You have an impressively mischievous CV. So I reckon the worst punishment for you would be to be good, caring, polite and honest for a year! Silence! No objections.’

Rally was rather puzzled. As she wasn’t aware of half of the words Judge Pig mentioned. But they all sounded appallingly.’

(…)

Finally, I want to share a video which sums up all that needs to be told about storytelling.

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Why advertising

If you happen to be a fortunate advertising graduate or a graduate in banking, geoscience or enigmatology with a particular fondness for advertising, that question would inevitably be asked at a job interview. Some interviewers would go like ‘Why the hell advertising’ to make it sound artier…

To my surprise, I always answer in one and the same way. Well, sometimes embellishing the story – spice is always needed.

It was a matter of upbringing in my case. My Father has always challenged me in everything I do – annoying yet helpful. So whenever I had to beg for extra money for presents, I got: ‘Make it yourself.’

Wonderful parenting technique but what if the present turns out really bad… (quite possible, I thought.)

To that, my Father had a ready-made answer: ‘Well, you will have to think how to make it look good … with words.’

So this is how it all started. Crafting things was never my strong point. Word play, on the other hand, has always been.

To please my Father, I made my attempts though:

Attempt 1: The Hairpin ButterflyIMG_5848

Attempt 2: The Big-mouth Bird  IMG_5869

It proved hard to ‘sell’ the Hairpin Butterfly to my Grandma though.

‘That is a butterfly made of hairpins, there you go and happy new year!’

All she could see (like most of us, I guess) were illogically destroyed hairpins.

The only possible way forward was to ‘target’ her at her ‘Achilles heel’.

She was very respectful of my other Grandma’s opinion. We all know about the Two Grandma Competition. Which of them would buy more stuff, would be a better cook, and ultimately would be more loved. So if I got my Other Grandma to like that present… maybe she was going to give in and finally like it in public, before all the Family.

Other Grandma enters the room. I wink at her. We always had the Secret Language. Plus I was helping her to gain some extra competition points. The mutually beneficial bargain.

‘Look what I got from Angelina’, Grandma 1 said with the least possible enthusiasm.

‘Spectacular! Contemporary art. They talk about it in the news all the time’, stepped in with her widest smile Grandma Saver.

(Auch. That must have hurt. Art and news mention on one line… bonus points)

‘Yes, yes… Now I can see! Although I wouldn’t call it contemporary – it is much ahead of its time. Glimpse into the Future Art is how I would define it’, Grandma 1 changed the strategy in the danger of losing a lot of ground to Grandma Saver.

They carried on for ages, but as I got what I needed out of Grandma 1, I didn’t calculate any more points for the day. So their efforts were in vain.

I didn’t get to think about this exercise before I had to apply for a university course. Back in the distant 2008.

And it hit me. Good with words, tactical thinking and unconventional imagination. There must be a degree for that.

Advertising and Marketing in Lancaster University. That doesn’t sound bad at all.

But it also sounded better than it was.  (Maybe to follow in another blog post)

Always worth thinking about the roots of the initial inspiration.

I am extremely grateful to my ever-interested and hence ever-interesting Father for the awkward exercises throughout my Childhood.

I am also eternally indebted to my Mother and Best Friend for interrupting me in every second sentence, so that now I keep it all short, simple and if The Copywriting God is with me – powerful.