Oh, the stories we could tell

Take a moment and watch this Apple Watch ad.

If you got to the end of it without a tear in your eye, well, you’re a stronger person than me.

A creative treatment like this runs the risk of swerving hard into cliché, but this ad avoids that pitfall when the reveal finally comes and the music swells.

These are real people, telling real stories.

Once again, Apple gives us a master class in advertising. The imagery is riveting. The cinematography frames the story impeccably. The music is pitch-perfect. But it’s the underlying message that leaves you with a lump in your throat.  

The product is presented not for what it is, but for what it can do; why it made a difference and to whom.

It’s not a terribly innovative approach, but it is executed to near perfection. Contrast it with, say, Zillow’s recent advertising gambits (soldiers, dead family members), which attempt to build a poignant real estate narrative but land less lachrymose and just feel emotionally manipulative.   

It’s a lesson we should all learn: The stories we tell make the difference in our marketing. And they are much more powerful when they are true.

The strategy

No more stock photos. 1000WATT has been on this kick for years now.

Granted, that’s easier said than done. It’s hard to resist the temptation to dive into the photo pools at Getty or iStock whenever the next project comes up.

But it’s why, whenever possible, we counsel our new clients early in the engagement to think through how they can begin to collect these kinds of personal stories.

Ask yourself: who are the real people you can feature in your marketing and advertising?

For Partners Trust, it meant taking a day to shoot clients at their homes. A professional photographer was brought in and we staged the shoot in Partners Trust’s listings. As a Los Angeles-based brokerage, they had no shortage of beautiful locations to choose from. We used those photos and the sentiments we captured to build, among other things, a more evocative experience at their website’s List With Us page.

For WFG National Title Insurance Company, we helped them turn inwards for inspiration and build a series of ads we dubbed the ‘I will’ campaign. These featured real WFG employees, highlighted their motivations and illustrated what they each brought to the table to improve the title and escrow experience for WFG’s Realtor and broker customers.

For Turpin Realtors, it meant finding consumers that matched the personas we had created for the company as it moved into new price tiers and new markets. By tapping agents to find the subjects and by using a local photographer, we gathered the photos we needed to illustrate their stories on the Turpin homepage. We were also able to give a young couple some lovely family portraits through this exercise.

As you plan your marketing strategy for next year, take time to think through different ways you can gather personal stories and also how you can produce the images or videos that go along with them.

This will give you and the agency you are working with the necessary pieces to build truly compelling campaigns.

We might not all have Apple’s heart-wrenching successes, nor their production budget, but we can certainly learn from their masterful storytelling.