The evolution of storytelling
Chosen by Lars Bastholm, chief digital creative officer,
Ogilvy North America and Steve Wax, co-founder and
managing partner, Campfire, New York
What really excites me is the ongoing evolution of storytelling. Alternate Reality Gaming or Transmedia storytelling are just two of the names for what’s going on. Stories have mostly been told in the same way for millennia: one-way from author to reader/ listener/viewer/user. The stories have always remained the same, the recipient could only influence them by re-reading or rewinding to experience their favourite parts again. That’s all changing. Storytelling is becoming a social experience akin to reading bedtime stories to kids, where you’ll sometimes have to make up parts after the curious child asks about the fate of a minor character or asks you to expand on a beloved scene. The audiences are the co-authors, and it’s become a two-way street for creators of narratives.
Look at the way the creators of Lost have managed to use digital platforms to keep the audience engaged and fascinated between seasons, and how the arg Why So Serious made The Dark Knight one of the most successful movies by engaging the fanbase and beyond in the narrative for over a year before the movie opened. And go to Central Park and fire up the iPhone app The Hidden Park and use the combination of GPS/compass and augmented reality to experience a story unlike ever before.
These are just a few examples of a nascent revolution in narratives. I don’t think the passive narrative will go away at all, but for a generation that has grown up with role-playing in games and the ability to influence the world around them through the giant loudspeaker that is the internet, odds are that the communal and engaged story will become a favourite.
Some of the hipper authors spend a lot of time engaging with their audience on, for example, Twitter. Neil Gaiman, Brian Lee O’Malley and Joe Hill are a few that come to mind. They take their relationship with their audience very seriously and while they are ultimately the sole creators of their works, it’s highly likely that some will soon start using digital channels to allow their audience an even greater impact on their stories.
So far, these types of stories lives mostly in the entertainment space, but as the culture vultures we are in advertising, there’s little doubt that brands will soon follow suit. The soap opera All My Children has been running for 40 years on American tv. Advertisers originally invented the format as a vehicle for delivering advertising to housewives watching daytime TV. I’m waiting for the format to get reinvented for the people who are online all day. It’s a wide open field, where we’ve only just gotten our toes wet and that’s what makes it so exciting for me.
I’m excited about the potential of the marketing that has been created to promote entertainment events. Whether it’s the marketing of Lost, Cloverfield, or True Blood, we have seen plots augmented, new characters created, and chunks of narrative distributed via new channels. The goal is to surround a potential audience with multiple entry points into films and TV shows, expanding the audience while we build fandom among adherents.
But what’s really fascinating and potentially powerful is the promise that these new character and story elements – ostensibly marketing content – will become part of the entertainment event, blurring the line completely between story and advertising.
As writers work to create more and more threads in multiple media, and advertising professionals work to make ads that appear to come from the complex world of the film or TV show, there will be little difference between a screenwriter and an adman.
Chosen by Grant Parker, head of art, DDB London
There is something incredibly satisfying about The Jungle, the second magazine from Nobrow Press.
For me, it’s not just the diverse collection of illustrations, or the beautiful three spot-colour printing. It’s the fact that it is a large, tactile, solid publication that you can enjoy paging through which makes it such a success. We are so used to hunting out illustrators online, but seeing them printed is still the most indulgent way. As they say on their website (yes, their website – it would be foolish to be totally old school) ‘Nobrow Press is all about publishing beautifully tactile illustrated books’. Such a simple, great mantra in today’s cyberworld.”
Nobrow (studio pictured left) is a small press in East London specialising in limited edition illustration and graphics publications.
It was set up in 2008 by Sam Arthur and Alex Spiro to provide platform for illustration, graphics and commercial art oriented publications. Arthur is formerly a director of commercials, short films and pop promos. Spiro studied history at Oxford before a love of collecting print ephemera drew him into the world of small press publishing.