This essay is an excerpt from a longer article on Story/Message Theory, originally published November 14, 2010. To read the original article in full, click the link. Links to other excerpts follow at the conclusion of this entry.
LEADING WITH MESSAGE/ ENGAGEMENT THROUGH SIGNIFICATION
Consider a campaign designed to appeal to soccer fans. A Story that begins with a young klutz and which then tracks his or her progress and transformation into World Cup champion might work well as long format movie entertainment, but the same story would be rather to difficult to pull off as a fifteen second spot.
If we do as Vonnegut suggests, and start as near the end as possible, we will have to eliminate much of the journey. Now, a sixty second spot, if it is within our budget, although abbreviated, would still allow us to deliver a satisfying Story. However, if our audience is simultaneously distracted by other media, we may lose the desired demographic before we have a chance to present it with an attractive semiotic.
Therefore, it may be, that the best way to fulfill our marketing objective is to flip the traditional model, so that we lead with the image of a soccer player, or even a jersey and a pair of cleats, thereby capturing focus with signification, which we can then either reward immediately with narrative, or alternately cue details for a time/space shift to another medium where interested parties might even be eager to spend more time, and enjoy a longer telling of our Narrative.
Thus, by leading with symbolic data, we inspire interest and desire in Narrative, where upon delivery, every major connection strategy –Marketing Objective, entertainment value and Story– is fulfilled and concluded, and perhaps even extended.
Of course, by Time Shifting Narrative, we no longer have to condense or compromise Narrative. In fact, we can expand it, and even do so across multiple consumer touch points, so that we can now employ a non linear marketing strategy whereby S=M+N1+N2+N3... (Story = Message + Narratives)
Arguably, Pop Stars put this theory to the test every time a songwriter front-loads a song with a hook. But I wonder if sonic artisans applying craft to the moving image might also be able to apply the theory when designing audio treatments composed for traditionally constructed media, and with what results?
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Articles in this series:
Story/Message Theory (Original full length article)
What is a Story?
The Parable/Fable Framework as Story Algorithm
The Story/Message Theory Construct
So It Goes: Vonnegut's Law
The Power of Effective Messaging
Create Engagement with Compelling Signification
Elevator Pitch: Speed Dating Signification
Static Symbolic Accentuating Triggers
Story is Dead
Leading with Message Signification
Non Linear Cross Platform Transmedia Storytelling
Mythology and Messaging