Storytelling: Influence through storytelling

David Brennan
Media Native

Neuroscience shows how a powerful narrative stimulates emotions, engagement and long-term memory encoding of the message, enabling sub-conscious influence.

I first became aware of the pervasiveness of storytelling across all media experiences back in 1996, when listening to John Hendricks, the founder of Discovery Channels, at the Edinburgh TV Festival. I expected him to talk about the educational and factual quality of his channels, but instead he delivered a heartfelt eulogy to their storytelling qualities, how they carried on the campfire storytelling traditions to create intrigue and wonder and curiosity about the subjects they were covering. I started to understand how influential storytelling can be in shaping our views, our knowledge, our experiences and our understanding of the world around us.

There has been a recent surge in the number of major advertisers claiming to base their marketing strategy around the concept of ‘transmedia storytelling’. Jonathan Mildenhall, Coca-Cola's global strategy chief, cites Coke's ‘happiness factory’ campaign as offering something “much more brand-centric and designed to build ‘brand mythology’, whereas basic branded content... invariably involved a trade-off between consumers and advertisers and failed to harness long-lasting support from its audiences”. He believes that effective transmedia storytelling should include a combination of “an immersive world, heroes, villains, friends and foes, a compelling story and multiple access points”.