4 Brands On How To Win With Great Storymaking

Why mar­keters should learn from Adobe, Burg­er King, and Visa about work­ing with con­sumers to cre­ate con­tent.

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Instead of sim­ply telling con­sumers brand sto­ries they may very well turn around and for­get, mar­keters should strive to con­nect with con­sumers in more mean­ing­ful ways. That was the gen­er­al hypoth­e­sis of MRY CMO David Berkowitz in an op-ed that cit­ed Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke cam­paign as a good exam­ple of this con­cept of sto­ry­mak­ing, or a brand “[facil­i­tat­ing] and [tap­ping] into the sto­ries peo­ple are cre­at­ing and shar­ing with each oth­er” as the antithe­sis of sto­ry­telling and the mar­ket­ing mod­el of the future.

Here are four exam­ples of brands active­ly sto­ry­mak­ing rather than sim­ply sto­ry­telling.


At a recent Ad Age con­fer­ence, Berkowitz said Adobe is a great exam­ple of this mod­el as well – in which sto­ries are about a consumer’s inter­ac­tion with a brand. This con­cept is illus­trat­ed beau­ti­ful­ly in Adobe’s 25 Years of Pho­to­shop video.

The video, which includes graph­ic design work from prop­er­ties like “Gone Girl”, “Shrek”, and “How to Train Your Drag­on”, “[cel­e­brates] the com­mu­ni­ty of artists using the prod­uct for 25 years,” said Ann Lewnes, CMO of Adobe, adding that giv­en the nature of the prod­uct, it is “easy for us to have our com­mu­ni­ty par­tic­i­pate in mar­ket­ing activ­i­ties.”


Brand/content cre­ator net­work Fullscreen focus­es on con­tent that is organ­ic to plat­forms and mean­ing­ful to its tar­get demo­graph­ics, accord­ing to Ash­ley Kaplan, head of con­tent at Fullscreen.

For the hor­ror movie “Oui­ja”, for exam­ple, the net­work part­nered with Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures to cre­ate a video in which YouTu­ber Kian Law­ley dis­ap­peared after play­ing with a Oui­ja board with his friends. The video asked fans to sub­mit info about his where­abouts with the hash­tag #Oui­jaWhereIsKian.

Per Kaplan, the result­ing cam­paign had 3 mil­lion Vine views and more than 7 mil­lion tweets.

But it was the con­tent of the tweets that sur­prised us,” she said. “We know [influ­encers] can have an out­size effect, but can we con­vert affin­i­ty for the cre­ator to affin­i­ty for the brand?”

In this par­tic­u­lar case, Kaplan said the answer was yes as engage­ment was around the movie rather than the influ­encer him­self and the film went on to open at box office with over $20 mil­lion.

Fullscreen works with creators/influencers because “the audi­ence that wants to con­sume con­tent across mul­ti­ple devices,” Kaplan said.

Her advice is to “unite the per­son­al with the social” and “across every plat­form, the brand should start con­ver­sa­tions and allow the com­mu­ni­ty to respond to it.”

Burger King

Burg­er King talks a lot about sto­ry­mak­ing and prefers to sort of take a step back and let con­sumers take the lead, accord­ing to CMO Eric Hirschhorn.

I love this idea that the sci­ence of sto­ry­mak­ing is…subject to the laws of iner­tia that any phys­i­cal object is sub­ject to,” he said. In oth­er words, it takes a lot of momen­tum to make sto­ry­mak­ing both start and stop.

The risk pro­file of start­ing a new con­ver­sa­tion is real­ly high for us as a brand,” Hirschhorn said. “It’s much more effec­tive to insert our­selves into a con­ver­sa­tion that already exists.”

He uses the exam­ple of Burg­er King’s Chick­en Fries, which is a menu item the brand recent­ly brought back after learn­ing via agency Code and The­o­ry that con­sumers were clam­or­ing for it online.

The brand looked at the rel­e­vant ways in which its tar­get audi­ence (13- to 18-year-olds) talk, which Hirschhorn said is most­ly through emo­jis, and decid­ed to insert itself into those con­ver­sa­tion via its own Chick­en Fries emo­jis.

It was quite obvi­ous for us that was our cam­paign,” he said.

In addi­tion, Hirschhorn said he doesn’t want to become “preachy” and tell con­sumers what to think about the Burg­er King brand.

What’s most effec­tive is to give peo­ple the free­dom to have an opin­ion about your brand,” Hirschhorn said. “And I don’t think neg­a­tive sen­ti­ment is nec­es­sar­i­ly a bad thing. It’s rich­er ter­ri­to­ry rather than telling them one way to feel.”


Per Chris Curtin, chief brand and inno­va­tion mar­ket­ing offi­cer at Visa, the Visa Check­out app, which allows mer­chants to imple­ment a native in-app check­out expe­ri­ence for iOS and Android-based devices, was mod­eled after the Unit­ed Air­lines app, which was built with the air­port trav­el­er in mind who is drag­ging a suit­case and only has one hand avail­able.

To illus­trate the ease of use of the Visa Check­out app, Visa cre­at­ed a video with a surfer order­ing piz­za from the app:

Visa also cre­ate a video with foot­ball play­er Lar­ry Fitzger­ald catch­ing pass­es while order­ing jer­seys.

What’s more, the brand worked with foot­ball play­ers Odell Beck­ham Jr. and Drew Brees to record the first world record for the most one-hand­ed catch­es in one minute.

This, Cur­tain said, has inspired con­sumers to shoot their own one-hand­ed record videos.

We want­ed to con­nect the idea that we had a prod­uct to be used with one hand with mer­chants in par­tic­u­lar,” Cur­tain said. “And the swipe is a fric­tion­less pay­ment expe­ri­ence even though there’s mas­sive amounts of fric­tion baked into the process.”

So what do oth­er brands need to know that want to make sto­ries along with con­sumers?

1. Brands Need Enthusiastic Fans

I think brand love leads to sto­ry­mak­ing,” Lewnes said. “If they’re not very attached to you, it will be dif­fi­cult to have them tell sto­ries.”

Plus, she notes, giv­en the democ­ra­ti­za­tion of video-mak­ing and pho­to-tak­ing and how easy it is for con­sumers to cre­ate con­tent, brands should be entic­ing them.

It doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly have to be through some form of com­pe­ti­tion,” Lewnes said. “[But] we’re in a unique spot because the peo­ple who buy our prod­uct tend to be cre­ative, so the abil­i­ty to get them to par­tic­i­pate is so much eas­i­er than ever before.

2. Brands Need To Listen

We’re not a cre­ator. We sell burg­ers and fries, so I think it’s hard to dri­ve par­tic­i­pa­tion,” Hirschhorn said. “I think it’s impor­tant to lis­ten and start to par­tic­i­pate in con­ver­sa­tions that already exist around things that mat­ter.”

3. Brands Need To Collaborate

Not all con­tent we pro­duce is pre­mi­um, but we wit­ness a pre­mi­um rela­tion­ship, which is the peer-to-peer rela­tion­ship between [influ­encer] and audi­ence,” Kaplan said. “So it’s about work­ing with that cre­ator, lis­ten­ing about what is organ­ic and work­ing with the brand part­ner to inject ini­tia­tives and mes­sag­ing.”

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

Inked is published by Linkdex, the SEO platform of choice for professional marketers.

Discover why brands and agencies choose Linkdex

  • Get started fast with easy onboarding & training
  • Import and connect data from other platforms
  • Scale with your business, websites and markets
  • Up-skill teams with training & accreditation
  • Build workflows with tasks, reporting and alerts

Get a free induction and experience of Linkdex.

Just fill out this form, and one of our team members will get in touch to arrange your own, personalized demo.