It all started with Porsche. On December 7th, MadPipe launched 40 Days of Corporate Storytelling on Twitter. Each tweet in the campaign is a vintage ad, with notes on what makes it a compelling narrative with the signature arc of a story. I didn’t know we were going to do this. It’s just that Porsche ads are so good–their ad titles ARE the stories. The rest of the ad is just support. Once we had done the first one, we couldn’t let go. So that became the Full Day of Porsche–with MadPipe tweeting a new example of Porsche’s stellar story content every hour.
And then, I thought, “Let’s not stop. We need to show the world some more spot-on ad stories from yesteryear.” Officially, the campaign finished up January 9th, with a Lockheed Martin ad, and a playful jibe at Elon Musk. The LM piece has this headline: “Imagine a world with those 20 new Martin Mars Transports!” What follows is an ‘envision the future’ story in full-page ad format. To Musk, who is taking us farther and farther with SpaceX, we said, “These guys are going to give you a run for your money!”
The first few days, we stuck mostly to saying “great story”, like with this EveReady story (a la Energizer).
— ᗪᗩᑎIᕮᒪ ᗪIGᖇIᘔ (@MadPipe) December 8, 2017
We classified a story or two – letting people know MadPipe has a taxonomy of corporate storytelling. This Mariner piece (journey story) is loads of fun:
— ᗪᗩᑎIᕮᒪ ᗪIGᖇIᘔ (@MadPipe) December 16, 2017
But ultimately, we moved to explaining what makes the story work, like with this American Airlines ad (a ‘what if’ story that’s too immersive to snap you out of it by saying ‘if’)
— ᗪᗩᑎIᕮᒪ ᗪIGᖇIᘔ (@MadPipe) December 13, 2017
And who needs this information? We branched out to poke Product Managers with a product roadmap story:
— ᗪᗩᑎIᕮᒪ ᗪIGᖇIᘔ (@MadPipe) December 19, 2017
And a “how it’s made, and why” story:
— ᗪᗩᑎIᕮᒪ ᗪIGᖇIᘔ (@MadPipe) December 22, 2017
We tapped Sales people on the shoulder, with a case study narrative:
Story about a “second story man” from this @TheHartford ad alternates between challenging the reader (in 2nd person) and telling a 3rd person story. Engaging, because it won’t let you out until the premise is established. Good job Hartford! pic.twitter.com/1JjfO9giFC
— ᗪᗩᑎIᕮᒪ ᗪIGᖇIᘔ (@MadPipe) December 23, 2017
And we nudged branding/positioning specialists with a glorious piece by Igloo:
— ᗪᗩᑎIᕮᒪ ᗪIGᖇIᘔ (@MadPipe) December 25, 2017
Editors of anthologies like to say the brilliance is in the curation, of course–a natural conceit. For MadPipe, the roundup of stories illustrates the points we’re making better than a “list-post” of 40 Ways to Tell Better Corporate Stories. We could do that, but then you’d go away with a set of “best practices” you’d likely never implement, instead of the envy we want to engender for examples like the brand narratives, product narratives, and corporate narratives we collected.
People pointed out that all the ads are vintage, and wanted to know why. The answers are twofold: 1) we think advertising used to be BETTER at it, than now. Prior to (let’s choose a somewhat but perhaps not entirely arbitrary date) Watergate–roughly 1973–there was frankly a lot more storytelling going on. I’m not knocking the shift, but I think some great gems of wisdom lie waiting in the cultural memory. 2) we were less polarized as a culture then. We weren’t each telling ourselves our own personal stories, making heroes of those who share our views and villains out of those with whom we disagree. We were still capable of sharing a narrative. I think we still are, and business leaders may be the ones to bring us back to it, but they may need to raid the past for the keys to that engine.
After 40 days, we still couldn’t quite let go; we went 46, and we gave a couple more Porsche examples–irresistibly, they nail the story arc in one line, every time. And we’re planning a possible “round 2” of the corporate storytelling marathon, so stay tuned. If you’d like to see the original full MadPipe (46) Days of Corporate Storytelling, go here.