CKED A J I H T A H RIES T N 10 STO TURE CONVERSATIO UL THE POP C -
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Copyright ÂŠ 2013 John Weich. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owners. Every reasonable attempt has been made to identify owners of copyright. Any errors or omissions brought to the publisher's attention will be corrected in subsequent editions. ISBN 978 90 6369 311 4 Design: JiHaa & 21bis
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Contents | 3
Part 1: The storytelling chromosome — Game theory — People are not rational beings — An addiction to immediacy — Continuous partial attention — Keeping it real — 1/f fluctuation — Carrots and the House of Orange — Hardwired to find order — Weapons of mass reaction — The open end — A pandemic of mimicry — The Googleization of everything — A sense of shared purpose — Our hero zero — Finding the Why — “People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad” — A complex choreography of interactions — The storytelling chromosome — The magic of metrics — Rebranding the potato — Everyone is a storyteller
19 20 21 23 25 27 29 31 32 33 34 36 38 40 42 43 44 45 47 48 50 51
Part 2: Hijacking the pop culture conversation — The Dark Knight: Why so serious? — Decode Jay-Z — TED Talks — Banksy — New York Times Infographics — The Hire — The worst hotel in the world — In Rainbows — Tomb Raider — 1,000 hours of staring
53 55 67 77 85 93 101 109 117 125 135
4 | Contents
Part 3: A compendium of storytelling learned — Too many storytelling gurus — Embrace the culture of omission — Dare failure, or avoid the sure thing — You’re in the business of remembering — The cold open is your new BFF — Remember that Shakespeare was a chemist — Arm against the second law of thermodynamics — Master the scripted unscripted — Fuel your intuition — It’s not always what you say but how you say it — Break the sequence — Platforms tell and movements sell — A perfect story doesn’t need to be all perfect — Disruption works some of the time — Find the truth and tell it, or create a myth and sell it — Leave your envy at the door
141 143 144 145 146 147 148 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159
Notes 160 Credits 171 Index 172 Acknowledgements 176
Introduction | 5
storytelling on steroids introduction
Right now, this very minute, a junior copywriter is adding “storyteller” to his Facebook profile. There is a gaming developer doing the same on LinkedIn. A PR agent is casually including “teller of stories” in his Twitter bio. Graphic designers, journalists, editors, broadcasters, coders, model makers, set designers, ginormous brands, ocean explorers, astronauts, schoolteachers, CEOs, marketing directors, creative consultants and trend watchers are peppering their websites, blogs and email signatures with the word “storytelling.” In this book, I explore why: Where did all this storytelling come from? Why are we suddenly so eager to spread the storytelling gospel? And who blazed the trail for an Age of Storytelling in mainstream communication? But first, I’ll state the obvious: storytelling is nothing new. Despite its deceptively brand-new sheen, storytelling never went away. Storytelling has simply reemerged at the nexus of technology, social media and entertainment, rejuvenated by a communication industry dealing with an anarchic landscape of digital distractions, and reinvented for a public overwhelmed by information and constantly seeking out new impulses. What we’re experiencing isn’t a radical new movement but a storytelling renaissance, one fueled by the social media and mobile gadgetry most of us use every hour of every day. These omniscient, addictive technologies have played a vital role in evolving the age-old idea of storytelling into something more truthful, more interactive, more immersive, more collaborative, more relevant and, almost always, more fun. As the president of LA content generator 42 Entertainment, Susan Bonds, told me, “The things we talked about in the 1990s, like immersion and interactivity, simply weren’t technically possible.”1
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Yet while I credit the Internet and its social media prodigies for “changing the way we think, read and remember,” I purposely avoid overplaying their hand.2 They are certainly the key instigators of the renaissance using the quintessential tools of this new kind of narrative. But I am more interested in how artists, admen, gamers, musicians, publishers, PR and other contemporary creatives have injected these tools into their trades. Because once technology did, in Bonds’ words, make those “things” possible at the turn of the millennium, it unleashed a creative angst on a scale unprecedented since the advent of TV—all chaos, fear and paradigm shifting. Rob Schwartz, the global creative president of TBWA Worldwide, expressed the atmosphere of the early aughts like this: “In 2001–2002 all these tech companies came to our agency showing us their wares and you sat there thinking, ‘Wait a minute, what are we going to do now? Hey, wait a minute; all these digital agencies are suddenly getting a big seat at the table.’ As a traditional agency we thought, ‘We’re fucked!’ But we weren’t fucked; we just didn’t have our game plan. We needed to find a new way to connect to our audience. Storytelling was one way to do that.”3
the storytelling hijack Nifty gadgets and platforms are central to this story, but Storytelling on Steroids is more interested in exploring how developers, publishers, businesses and brands are embracing these quintessential technologies to persuade, convince, entice and enthrall. Yes, the gadgetry is cool, but they’re lifeless without us behind them. As great as platforms like Facebook and Twitter and Instragram are, they are because we use them. Actively . . . personally . . . obsessively. The result is that in the last decade and a half we’ve become willing participants in the most massive global storytelling experiment of all time. It shows no signs of abating anytime soon, which is a good thing—a very good thing. It’s probably impossible to wax lyrical on the word hijack used in the subtitle of this book, but no other word embodies the speed and deftness with which professional creatives and communicators have applied storytelling to their own individual needs. Which is to say: their need to stand out, be different, be authentic. And who can blame them, really? We live in a society of choice, where picking out even a jar of peanut butter
Introduction | 7
can incite a state of paralysis. It’s what the American psychologist Barry Schwartz calls “the paradox of choice,” and it’s most of all a paradox for the sellers, the people whose livelihoods rest on the number of video games, books, albums, magazines, tickets, gigs and products they push.4 Just stroll down the aisle of any supermarket in America, France, Sao Paulo and Beijing and marvel at how many products and packaging and services openly copy or surreptitiously mimic each other. For the average consumer the profusion of choice is mostly fascinating, the ultimate token of freedom. For the average creative or communicator it’s a bane of their existence. There are only so many ways to use the word innovative or healthy or game-changing— and even fewer ways to use these words honestly. Story as the Great Differentiator. In an era where most things offer the same unique selling points (breakfast bars) or visceral experiences (video games), a good story is often the only thing that distinguishes the one from the other. To them, storytelling is a godsend. From artists to admen, game developers to architects, PR agents to savvy marketers, cultural tastemakers have adopted storytelling in a desperate frenzy to differentiate their wares in this economy of choice. In this light, the storytelling renaissance was anything but an accident; it was a perfectly executed appropriation by the creative and communication industries that needed it most. They rather shamelessly jumped on the genre and, figuratively speaking, blew it up. What was once essentially the exclusive domain of artists, poets, priests, musicians, directors and writers now permeates pretty much every corner of mainstream creativity: fashion, advertising, gaming, packaging, journalism, PR, graphic design and technology. These professionals—and I certainly include myself amongst them—have transformed storytelling into a societal piece. It is everywhere! Storytelling is like graffiti or sounds of the city: you can ignore them until you can’t, and once you hone in on them, you can’t stop seeing or hearing them. These days you encounter stories in the most unusual spaces: on pizza boxes and T-shirts, sewn into denim labels, wrapped inside premium chocolates and painted onto the bottom of hotel swimming pools. And it’s not just in branding. Peruse the list of the most popular podcasts in iTunes and you’ll find storytelling programs like This American Life and storytelling platforms like The Moth. Storytelling festivals are now
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Part 1 â€“ The Storytelling Chromosome | 19
the storytelling chromosome ories e h t k c o n , hard-k that help s a e id x o d unortho ltural thoughts ling of f o h s a m A mish ated cu become the dar r u c y l m s, o and rand story telling has anagers, marketer o. o hy m explain w l communicators, nd everyone else, t A na professio tisans and artists. , ar musicians
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Game Theory The thing about storytelling is this: once you start thinking in stories, everything around you becomes a story. Take Monopoly, that fantastically popular board game. Monopoly is not a game, it’s a story. Sure, it’s easy to get caught up in the game’s accouterments: the plastic fantastic homes and coveted hotels; the savvy real-estate names born on Atlantic City streets; the jail roundabout; the sly, shiny Howitzers and Top Hats trying to outflank Scottie dogs and thimbles; and most of all, lots and lots of fake money, the whole purpose of which is to greedily horde. But all these are incidentals. Monopoly didn’t become the world’s best-selling proprietary board game based on cute figurines alone.1 It got that way because of its simple universal narrative of fortunes won and lost. Turns out there’s a pretty straightforward narrative lurking behind nearly every game, film and book dear to us. The story of Gladiator, those three hours of blockbuster Roman ersatz, can be condensed to seven words: a guy who just wants to go home. Jaws? The Great White might have stolen the show, but the film is actually a story about a guy dealing with his masculinity as he finds his footing in a new town.2 Every successful mainstream product can be summarized in a few simple words. We get fanatically caught up in the details, but it’s the universal theme that draws us in.
“ every successful mainstream product can be summarized in a few simple words. ”
Part 1 – The Storytelling Chromosome | 21
People are not rational beings In recent years contemporary preachers in the form of neuroscientists and behavioral psychologists have made significant contributions to our understanding of story. And along the way, they’ve busted the vast majority of our long-cherished self-delusions. Perhaps the greatest mythbuster is this: we are not as rational as we think. Not even close, actually. Stronger still, we are unapologetically animal. Drama Queenism is our default, the everyday norm. And storytelling plays into this flawlessly. I facetiously call these scientists preachers to underscore their status in the marketing and branding world. Sociologists like Gerald Zaltman, behavioral economists like Dan Ariely, psychologists like Daniel Kahneman and best-selling raconteurs like Malcolm Gladwell have brought to mass audiences the conversation about how we behave, consume and focus.3 Their addictive fluency and ability to talk about psychology and cognitive science in humorous, anecdotal ways has made the irrationality of human behavior a popular subject around office espresso machines. Books like Ariely’s Predictably Irrational and Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow have helped shake industry decision-makers out of their business-as-usual stupor to embrace the economics of emotion. Using detailed field tests and sophisticated brain-scanners, these ‘mad scientists’ have convinced key decision-makers around the world that story isn’t just about telling; it’s also about selling. This is what they’re saying: We humans are ruled by systematic biases of judgment, some of which we acknowledge, the majority of which we don’t. We like things without really knowing why and we buy things simply because our friends recommend them even when the consumer reports don’t (which is precisely what the social media mainstays are designing their business models around).4 We enjoy certain artists and musicians for no reason other than someone else likes them. Often, they don’t even have to recommend it; it’s enough for them to be rumored to enjoy them. If all these arguments sound rather obvious to you it’s because the above-mentioned scientists, psychologists and behavioral scientists are mainstays in popular media. They’ve been preaching so loudly and for so long that their ideas have crawled into our collective consciousness through the magazines, blogs and newspapers we read.
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Like the Golem of ancient lore, these scientist-writers have given rise to the so-called â€˜homo emoticus.â€™ Homo emoticus is not ruled by logic but by emotion. Homo emoticus does not want to be sold to, but engaged. And more than anything else, homo emoticus loves a good story.
RATIONAL = TELL EMOTIONAL = ENGAGE
Part 1 – The Storytelling Chromosome | 23
an addiction to immediacy Mention storytelling to casual passersby and they’ll most likely reference fairytales and Dickens. They’ll think traditional linear narratives of good and evil, narratives that require a bit of time and peace of mind to get through. Nothing could be further from the truth. Like many things to suddenly appear in the past two decades, the digital revolution has radically altered the way we create and consume stories. You could even say that the storytelling renaissance first reared its head in Silicon Valley, sparked by a curious crowd of digital grandstanders ready and willing to talk about anything and anyone, for profit or simply for fun. The first few Craigslist (1995) activists, the handful of e-auctioneers who sold their wares on eBay (1995), the first wave of Wikipedians (2001), the circles of friends that quietly gravitated to Friendster (2002). It began as a splash, grew into a swell that picked up much debris along its way and crashed against pop culture in the form of a tsunami. Just like that, everyone became a storyteller. Which is to say, we are all complicit in reintroducing storytelling into the mainstream. All of us, through our daily emails, Facebook posts, tweets, Instagram snaps and Pinterest pinboards. Every day billions of us are engaged in an unprecedentedly massive and shamelessly personal storytelling campaign that has unleashed a panoply of storytelling opportunities. Where we spent most of the 1990s simply transferring analogue ideas onto the web, throughout much of the aughts our energy went into embracing the social tools that paved the way for ‘immersive experiences’ and conversational dialogue. What tools, precisely? Basically all the stuff you take for granted today—WiFi; sophisticated gaming consoles; the mainstreaming of personal (mobile) computing devices; the radical shift in communication from a spoke-hub distribution paradigm to a point-to-point one; the micro-fragmentation of the media; the rise of the individual as broadcaster and aggregate; the extraordinary ease of social sharing via neat little buttons and hashtags; the hyper-attention to detailed individual behavior courtesy of social media; the convincing transparency of Big Brother–like metrics that hasn’t even begun to tap into its potential of helping us make sense of the world. Ironically, it’s the rise of all this cold, hard rational technology that has urged us to delve deeper into our frivolous, emotional selves. They have helped transform us—willingly
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or not, consciously or not—into biographers of the often (in)significant minutiae that constitute our daily lives. All our Facebook confessionals and Twitter posturing have galvanized a cataclysmic shift from a society made up primarily of passive stock narrative consumers (e.g. Grimm, Disney and Hollywood’s addiction to transformation stories with happy endings) to a society made up increasingly of hyperactive, hyperindividualistic storytellers. For a great portion of the developed world, storytelling is now a fetishistic habit. By sheer repetition, we’ve become articulate narrators . . . of ourselves. Hundreds of millions of us are addicted to evolving our individual narratives everyday, often embellishing them—okay, always embellishing them—through name-throwing, place-dropping and branded cultural showmanship: the products we buy, the music we listen to, the films we watch, the men and women we quote, the books we read and the random acts we experience on the street. And all our own tweets and pins and posts and Likes crisscross and interact with equally egocentric tweets and pins and posts and Likes. Social media is little more than the delirious and rabid exchange of stories. Narratives that don’t require a bit of time and peace of mind to get through. They are immediate and everyday.
“ every day billions of us are engaged in an unprecedentedly massive and shamelessly personal storytelling campaign called social media. ”
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Continuous Partial Attention Storytelling has many attributes, but chief amongst them is its ability to seize and hold our attention for hours at a time. In this age of continuous partial attention, story is a powerful tool to wield.5 If there is one experiment that illustrates how little control we have over our attention, it’s The Invisible Gorilla.6 Conducted by the Harvard psychologists Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris back in 1999, the experiment asked students to watch six people—three dressed in black, three in white—toss a basketball around. The task was to count the times the players in white passed the ball to each other. As the people passed the ball around, a person dressed in a comically cliché gorilla suit walked into the frame and banged his chest a bit before walking out again. Afterwards, the researcher asked the students whether they had seen anything out of the ordinary in the video. Turned out only half actually saw the gorilla! Today, the Invisible Gorilla is the trophy case for a phenomenon called “inattentional blindness,” the main idea of which is this: we think we are perceptually aware of our surroundings, but we are not (or not always). More to the point, it is hard to focus on multiple tasks with equal diligence and intensity. So while most of us have traversed the aughts wearing ‘multitasker’ as a title of pride, we’ve more likely cornered ourselves in a state of continuous partial attention. The only way to process all the information is to skim and speed-read all those blogs, emails and text messages. If we’re lucky, we’ll remember a few sound bites at the end of the day. More information, less knowledge. In his cleverly titled book The Shallows, Nicholas Carr delves into the effects the “frenziedness of technology” is having on our brains.7 “The Net is, by design, an interruption system, a machine geared for dividing attention,” he says.8 The Shallows is an exploration of interruption. To be fair, interruption was a part of our lives before the web showed up. For most of history the primary go-to option for PR agents, admen, artists, writers and fashion designers was to interrupt our attention by any means possible: bright colors, fat fonts, sneakily tweaking up the commercial volume, the continuous drone of catchy melodies (i.e. “Big Mac, Filet-O-Fish, Quarter Pounder, French fries, icy Coke, thick shake, sundaes, apple pie!”). The Internet—and mobile phones—simply amplified it, made all that information kaleidoscopic and mediamatic. Our lives became One Big Interruption.
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Part 2 â€“ Hijacking the Pop Culture Conversation | 53
hijacking the cultural conversation ible for ing s n o p s e r 10 stories y telling and elevat d s t or z z w or g u in b t l a a n b e o v l u re j ea to a g n. id e g in r f it from in communicatio
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the dark knight: why so serious? The hijack: Transmedia storytelling — The hijackers: Warner Brothers and 42 Entertainment — The legacy: Viral marketing isn’t exclusively short, inane videos of cats and kids—it can also be smart, challenging stories that unravel over time
While 1999 was the year video games infiltrated the Hollywood Machine and radically influenced the way filmmakers constructed their cinematic stories (see page 34), 2001 marks the moment storytelling jumped off the page and became an immersive, digitally infused adventure. This is because 2001 was the year of The Beast, and I’m not talking a Chinese New Year mascot. The Beast is an Alternate Reality Game, or ARG for short. While not the first ARG on record (that honor apparently goes to EA Sports Majestic campaign), The Beast was the first to infiltrate the global creative mainstream. The Beast was to immersive storytelling what Technicolor was to cinema: a gear-shifting innovation that introduced an unexpected dimension to an already enjoyable experience. It felt innovative because it utilized tools we knew and used—telephones, faxes—and the platforms we were just learning to love—the Internet, search engines and social media. It felt smart because it avoided the usual cinema clichés and dumbed-down marketing messages and instead tapped into collective intelligence. It felt big because, well, it was: it was backed by two of the most bankable names in the business: Warner Bros. and Microsoft. Before the story had run its course, The Beast had introduced an engaging new way to tell stories across the emerging forms of media channels. After it ended, it begot a string of immersive storytelling campaigns that included Halo 2’s I Love Bees (2004), the Lost Experience (2006), Audi’s The Art of the Heist (2006) and The Dark Knight: Why So Serious? (2008).
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But let’s pause a moment and establish the scene. An ARG is an interesting mongrel between a neighborhood scavenger hunt and street theater, except it relies on digital technology as its connective tissue. Plainly put, an ARG is an interactive fiction that, unlike video games, doesn’t restrict itself to the screen. It is a real-life game that deliberately blurs the lines between what is real and what is not. Not reality, but ‘alternative reality.’ Which is to say close, but so very, very far away. ARG creators relish this ambiguity, captured perfectly in the genre’s unofficial mantra ‘this is not a game.’ ARGs embrace all the passion of video games, but instead of avatars its players are real-life protagonists who can influence storylines and the drive plot forward through collaborative problem solving and collective action. At their best, ARGs transfer the storytelling ownership to the players—the players aren’t just following a story, they are actually living it. Just watch the 1997 Michael Douglas flick The Game to understand how far of an imagination stretch an ARG can become. With the right budget, script and hero to rally around, they can be pretty awesome. Because they merge cinematic, or gaming, plots with real-life situations, ARGs are often referred to as ‘immersive’ storytelling. Because they utilize everyday tools of interaction, they are celebrated as ‘transmedia’ storytelling. Okay, so let’s flash back to 2001 and The Beast. The Beast was an interactive mystery created to promote a series of Xbox video games tied into the much anticipated release of Stephen Spielberg’s megafilm A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.1 It’s easy to fear ARGs as potential film spoilers, but they are less pre-release trailer than they are performance art. The Beast didn’t reveal a single thing about the movie. Situated in the year 2142—fifty years after the events the movie would chronicle—it was a would-be/could-be narrative designed to immerse fans into the A.I. world. Using a series of intricate puzzles and plots seeded across trailers, events, ads, emails, phone calls, faxes and microsites, the ARG teased and taunted fans in the leadup to the launch of the film. The Beast brought a surprisingly high level of literary sophistication to the Hollywood
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blockbuster pre-launch media circus. For one, it was provocatively subtle—so subtle many didn’t even notice it was a game until after the fact. Strategically, it was disproportionately risky by anyone’s standard, but especially by Hollywood’s. Would fans be able to follow its fragmented structure, visit all the platforms, uncover the right clues and share them in order to push the ARG along? Turns out, millions would. The Beast was created by a bunch of interactive specialists at Microsoft who later formed the creative agency 42 Entertainment, which, a few years later, would be the genius behind the next ARG benchmark: I Love Bees. Commissioned again by Microsoft, for the launch of Microsoft video game Halo 2, I Love Bees used many of the same tenets as The Beast—collaborative storytelling, the use of multiple platforms, an element of co-creation—and again produced remarkable results, in this case, $125 million worth of video game sales on the first day alone. If The Beast introduced ARGs to the mainstream, I Love Bees solidified it as an exciting, albeit risky, new marketing tool for content producers like big-time game publishers and film studios. It was a form of marketing that suited their particular sensibilities. For starters, it was marketing that felt like storytelling, which in turn was a logical extension of their core business. Secondly, it was a non-traditional form of communication that appealed to their non-traditional target group: eighteen- to thirty-five-year-olds. It turns out that both The Beast and I Love Bees were mere primers for what came next. By 2007, 42 Entertainment had honed its transmedia storytelling skills to such a degree that the company was ready to create something truly magnificent. And they did in Why So Serious?, a genre-defining ARG that took place in the frenetic lead-up to Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise adaptation The Dark Knight. In the words of 42 Entertainment CEO Susan Bonds, "Why So Serious? was the most successful interactive fiction example in the past digital decade.”2 Depending on what happens between now and the publication of this book (that’s how fast the fortunes of ARGs evolve), few will disagree with her. The numbers speak for themselves: thirty-four weeks of interactive storytelling; an active engagement of eleven million fans in seventy-six countries; a total reach of 129 million.
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out for The Dark Knight. By following the frenetic online conversations during Why So Serious?, Warner Bros. knew long before the premier of The Dark Knight that the film would shatter box office records. Of course, anyone in the communication business will tell you that the difference between a successful and wildly successful campaign is a dose of serendipity beyond the campaign team’s purview. You could say that the storytelling stars were truly aligned for Why So Serious?, in ways both propitious and tragic. First, you have to acknowledge that the sudden death of Ledger—by accidental drug overdose5—helped catapult Batman into dorm rooms and suburban homes it might not have ever entered otherwise. Secondly, by the time 2008 rolled around, interactive drama was trickling into the mainstream, and collaborative social networks were already entrenched into our daily routines (almost all the current social staples were around, with the exception of Pinterest and Instagram). Had Why So Serious? happened three years earlier, it wouldn’t have been half as contagious. While luck was definitely on 42 Entertainment’s side, most of that luck was forced. Why So Serious? was already in full swing at the time of Ledger’s death. The tragedy certainly generated massive interest in the movie, but it was not the defining catalyst for the ARG. Drawing from the same source material as Nolan did for The Dark Knight—mainly The Killing Joke—42 Entertainment straddled the line between intellectual and entertaining, teasing as much as telling. The ARG reached so many people because the story contained enough savvy nuance to appeal to hardcore fans but was accessible enough to casual observers, including those comic book pariahs—women—tens of thousands of whom participated in the interactive scavenger hunt. “There were a lot of references to the original comics,” says 42 Entertainment’s Lieu. “The core fans, they recognized it all. But new fans were solely invested in the Joker.” The question remains whether fans will remain invested in ARGs as a serious storytelling option well into the future. A little more than a decade old, ARGs are no longer novelties, and it’s hard to imagine its downstream impact getting any bigger than Why So Serious? Brands like Ford, Wrigley and Sony have hungrily embraced them, but they certainly don’t come cheaply. In fact, it’s clear that ARGs work best when tapping into an existing and irrational fanatic fan base. This is why ARGs are so ideally suited for
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gaming, music and cinema cultures, where the top of the pyramid is broad, passionate and digitally vocal. No matter which way the wind blows, ARGs will have a lasting impact on the way gamers, admen, marketers and other professional communicators tell their stories. ARGs played a significant role in ushering in the idea of distributive narrative. Household ARG principles like ‘hiding in plain sight’ and ‘whisper rather than shout’ have become the basis of viral and guerilla marketing. Another ARG idiom, the so-called ‘rabbit hole’—a website or puzzle or some other visible point of entry used to increase the odds of people discovering the game— is now standard marketing jargon for everyone from M&Ms to Doritos. Last but certainly not least, ARGs set the rules and gameplay techniques of large-scale collaborative gaming that have formed the standard for everyone from Facebook games to Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). Why So Serious?’s most enduring legacy may be that it proved there was a place for interactive, collaborative and multilayered storytelling in viral marketing, a genre defined almost exclusively by loud and ridiculous video snippets. “We like to say we helped shatter the popular marketing model that simple is not always the best solution,” says Bonds. “There’s an audience out there that’s smart and networked. People like layers, they like stories.” In 2008 Why So Serious? set a new benchmark for every ad house, design studio, film producer, event organizer and publisher with storytelling pretensions. It took three years for anyone to come even close to replicating its success. Not surprisingly, it was another pop culture icon. Not Batman but hip-hop artist Jay-Z.
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Part 2 â€“ Hijacking the Pop Culture Conversation | 65
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Part 3 â€“ A compendium of storytelling learned | 141
a compendium of storytelling learned ories t s e m o s t ual, bu ctical tips q e d e t a e r pr a re c a w e s f ie A r . o s t r s e A ll l media, ot h a i n c a o h t s , l a a u m e q are more e ues drawn from cin TV thatâ€™ll inspire iq y and techn pitalism and realit telling voice. a venture c ind your own story you to f
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Part 3 – A compendium of storytelling learned | 143
too many storytelling gurus There are literally hundreds of rules and half as many books telling you how to tell a story. Fine, great. But approach them with the same irreverence you apply to the word whom—acknowledge it’s there, but refuse to use it. There are no rules to storytelling that won’t one day be broken. Sure, it’s the job of the storytelling rule-makers to guard the status quo. What they don’t tell you is that the status quo in storytelling will almost certainly relegate your tale to the slush pile, or die at the editor’s desk, or be ignored in the gaming war room. Remember, the linguist will always underline any sentence that begins with And, ignoring the fact that the American national anthem is riddled with them. A grammarian would have never signed off on Apple’s “Think Different” slogan, preferring instead “Think Differently” and thereby robbing us of one of the most iconic taglines in advertising history. Storytelling books are dripping with sage advice for People of Power in search of tools to inspire and cajole and help them get their way. Storytelling is a really useful skill for them to master. Much of the advice offered is designed to confirm their own beliefs or remind them of things they already know—advice like “read or recite part of a text you know and love quickly”; “read a children’s story”; “listen to speakers you admire”; “pat yourself on the back for a job well done.” Admittedly, these are some pretty dour examples, but let the record state that I didn’t make them up myself. I pulled them from storytelling books. Right here, right now, new technologies are radically changing the way stories are told. We’re moving rapidly from linear to nonlinear, media to transmedia, long-form to fragmentation. Gladly accept constructive advice, but don’t let someone else’s rules stand in your way. They’re protecting the status quo, while you may represent the next precedent.
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embrace the culture of omission “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.” Yes, Hemingway. You may not love the man, you may not even like his style, but there’s no escaping this six-word masterpiece, quite possibly the most emotionally wrenched story this side of Bambi. It works because there’s so much missing. It triggers our imaginations because there are so many blanks. Omission is the black sheep of storytelling. It’s so counterintuitive to the way we communicate today. In an age of endless digital autobiographical babble, we’re programmed to chat-type quickly and often mindlessly. If you’ve only got eighteen minutes to tell your life’s story (TED Talks) an arsenal of dramatic pauses doesn’t feel like a winning strategy. If Facebook is all about the acquisition of Likes, then it makes sense to publish a lot of things that can be Liked. But as a strategy, omission makes a lot of sense. According to the well-known cognitive pscyhologist Jerome Bruner, our brains devote more processing time to unexpected information than to what we already know.1 Traced through an evolutionary lens, we pay more attention to what we don’t know (threat or opportunity) than to what we do know (familiar). In other words, we’re more interested in the unfamiliar. Omission plays the game flawlessly. And if the example of Lost in the previous chapter doesn’t convince you, perhaps one of the most infamous figures in pop culture history will: the Marlboro Man. This cowboy chewing on a nicotine stick never even uttered a word. Everything we know about him, everything we feel, we projected there ourselves.
“ We pay more attention to what we don’t know than to what we do know. ”
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dared failure, or avoiding the sure thing Dared failure—this isn’t a storytelling theory, it’s an existential one. Dared failure is the idea that anything worth doing must have a (significant) probability of failure associated with it. The thing is, most of us are scared silly of failure. And it’s this fear that distinguishes the quiet inventors and garage shop entrepreneurs and swarming venture capitalists from the rest of us. To them, daring failure is the organizing principle of their lives. Storytelling is an artistic calling, but it’s also big business. Publisher queries have never been greater, video content never more pervasive. Every self-respecting city has its own TEDx platform featuring the polished stories of its local shakers and movers. Kickstarter has turned everyone into a slick-tongued industrialist. Storytelling is often the only thing distinguishing one product from the next. This really isn’t the time to play it safe. If you’re going to unlock people’s attention for more than a few seconds, you need to avoid the sure thing. There’s enough of that already. To jolt people awake, you’re going to have to dare failure. There are several ways to do that—read on.
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you’re in the business of remembering While usually framed as a tool of leisure, storytelling is actually a tool of necessity. It helps us remember. This is an important lesson to take home, because most admen and PR agents and marketers profess that theirs is a business of informing or selling or engaging or inspiring. True, but these are short-term aspirations. They’re nice words sculpted for the quick sell. Storytelling is genetically engineered to make people remember. Of course, in a landscape designed to assault our senses and disrupt our attention patterns, infiltrating memory is a near-impossible task. Not that we don’t try. In fact, the usual methods used to achieve this are remarkable creativity, robot repetition and luck. One of the best takeouts from all those amazing stories, wacky theories and unorthodox ideas in Part 1 is that story offers a fast-track to memory.2 This doesn’t mean every story conjures an emotional, memorable experience; it just means that stories have higher odds of achieving it. It doesn’t mean every story will become an emotional property that spans generations—i.e. pop culture franchises like Batman, Star Wars and My Little Pony—but the threshold to understanding, accepting and remembering them will be infinitely lower.
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the cold open is your new bff It’s a much-loved cinematic punch: the cold open. A cold open—aka teaser, hook and leader—is purposefully made to kick-start a story. A tactical hard-hit that precludes credits, introductions or menus, designed to keep us from tuning out or zapping away. If storytelling is all about connecting emotionally quickly, few things draw you in so effectively as a good cold open. You could say that the steady rise of cold opens since the late 1980s is as good a proof as any of our abbreviated attention spans. We don’t have time to linger as a story builds up momentum. We don’t want to wait till the arc plays out. Give us the best you’ve got in the few first minutes and we’ll decide then and there if you’re worthy of our precious attention. The cold open is the storytelling tool for on-demand entertainment. It’s harder to find a cable drama that doesn’t employ them than to find one that does. Video games are turning to them as well, introducing the title screen only after you complete the first level of play. The so-called Action Prologue—a nail-biting opening scene that requires immediate and full immersion—is a standard film trope. The James Bond franchise uses them so unabashedly they have their own subgenre: the Bond Opening Sequence. Cold opens are the lifeline of late-night American TV icon Saturday Night Live. The first chapter of almost every novel today is a cold open—it’s the only way to get an agent or publisher interested in reading the rest. The first sentence of every magazine article is one as well. Even TED Talks has its own brand of cold open: the wow-I-didn’t-know-that insight. It’s not irrational to think that cold opens will work their way into high cultural pursuits like theatre, opera and ballet. The cold open is the elevator pitch of storytelling. There is no time for boring. You might hate them, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Cold opens don’t have to even be related to the thread of your story. They can be a completely random fact or self-effacing insight, anything to reel them in. And once you’ve got their attention, you can get back to business, unfolding your plot at a slightly more leisurely pace. Once you’ve got their attention, it’s yours to lose. Which is better than never having had their attention at all.
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“1/f fluctuation” 29 1000 Hours of Staring 135 42 Entertainment 5, 55-62, 129, 176 4’33 (Cage) 136 Abrams, J.J 138, 161, 170 Adaptation (Jonze) 102, 151 Adidas 10 Adrià, Ferran 13, 154 advertainment 101 Alternate reality game (ARG) 5558, 60, 62, 63, 67, 105 Amazon 17, 119 American Beauty 34, 102 Anderson, Chris (Ted Talks) 78 Anderson, Thomas 34 Anonymous Content 101, 104 Appbackr 118 Apple 10, 40, 143, 159, 165 Ariely, Dan 21, 47, 161 Armstrong, Lance 14 The Art of the Heist (ARG) 55 Ask.com 39, 150 Aspen Ideas Festival 78 Atlantic, The 38, 162 Audi 55 Ball, Alan 102 Bambi 144 Banksy 10, 13, 85-92, 159, 166 Barney, Matthew 87 Batman 57-63, 97, 146, 164, 167 Batman: Arkham Asylum 61 Bauhaus 155 The Beast (ARG) 105 Beastie Boys 73 Bennett, Paul 109, 113, 158 Big Brother 23 Big Data 48, 93, 98, 167 Bing 67, 68, 69, 71, 165 BioShock (video game) 130, 159 Bissell, Tom 130, 169, 170 BitTorrent 120 Björk 102 Blair Witch Project, The 34 Bleek, Memphis 70 BMW 10, 101-105, 167, 168
(see also The Hire campaign) Book of Gossage, The 163 Bonds, Barry 97 Bonds, Susan 5, 6, 57, 58, 60, 63, 160, 164, 176 Booker, Christopher 51, 164 Bruner, Jerome 144, 170 Buffy the Vampire Slayer 127 Burden, Chris 136 Business Insider 85, 87 Cage, John 136 Calle, Sophie 87 Campbell, Bruce 105 Campbell, Joseph 51 Collins, Lauren 88, 166 Cannes Film Festival 103 Carr, Nicholas 25, 160, 161, 162 Cattelan, Maurizio 136 Chabris, Christopher 25, 161 Character 29, 34, 61, 69, 125, 129, 130, 132, 158, 161 Chase, David 102 Chateau Marmont 111 Chelsea Hotel 111 Clinton Global Initiative 78 CNN 8, 87, 164 Coca-Cola 40 Colbert, Stephen 81 Cold open 4, 59, 147 Collins, Dylan 130 Columbia University 8, 160 ComScore 117, 165 Continuous partial attention 3, 25, 26, 161 Converse 102 Cops 34 Core Design 125 Cornell University 291 Craigslist 17, 23, 163 The Crazy Ones campaign 159 (see also Apple) Creative Class 119, 168 Creative Commons 79 Croft, Lara 13, 125, 127, 130, 131, 132, 169 Crowdfunding 118-121
Crowdsourcing 149 Crystal Dynamics 131 Cube, Ice 271 Cubism 155 Cutting, James E. 30, 162 The Dark Knight (Nolan) 57, 59, 61, 62, 154 Dalai Lama 103 Dark Horse (comics) 105 Dark Knight, The 10, 55-73 DC Comics 58 Decoded (Jay-Z) 67-73, 164, 165 Decoding Reality (Vedral) 170 de Kooning, Willem 136 Del Rey, Lana 106 Depp, Johnny 153 Dickens, Charles 23, 131 Dickinson, Emily 109 Digg 17, 60 Disney 24, 51, 86 Doom (video game) 128, 169 Donnie Brasco (De Palma) 153 Droga5 67-72, 164, 165, 176 Dune II (video game) 128 Dungeons & Dragons (game) 129 EA Sports 55 Eazy-E 27 eBay 17, 23, 163 Edison, Thomas Egan, Jennifer 157, 170 elBulli 13, 154 Elevator pitch 11, 81, 147 (see also cold open) Entertainment Weekly 170, 34, 162 Existencilism (Banksy) 89, 166 Esquire 125 E.T. 27, 161 Etsy 199 Exit through the Gift Shop (Banksy) 90 The Face (magazine) 127, 128 Facebook 5, 6, 17, 23, 24, 28, 36, 40, 44, 60, 63, 86, 93, 96, 103, 119,
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120, 144, 152, 157, 163 Fallon 101, 102, 167 Fandom 117, 119, 120, 126 fashionista 149 Fight Club (Fincher) 34, 102 Final Fantasy (video game) 13, 129, 130 Fincher, David 102, 103, 104 Flickr 17, 167 Flaubert, Gustave 156 Flock, Kelly 126 Ford 62 FourSquare 17 Frankenheimer, John 103 Freeman, Gordon 13 Freemium 118 Frey, Stephen 98, 167 Friendster 23, 34 Friedman, Tom (artist) 135-139, 170 Girl power 127 Gladiator (film) 20 Gladwell, Malcolm 21, 47, 161 Golem 22 Goodby, Jeff 163 Goodson, Scott 155, 170 Google 13, 17, 38, 39, 40, 51, 69, 163, 166 - Analytics 48 - Glasses 39 - Googleization 3, 38, 40 - Earth 39, 166 - Maps 38 - Search 13, 38 Gossage, Howard 44, 163 Gottschall, Jonathan 9, 160, 163 Gould, Glenn 151 Grand Theft Auto III (video game) 128 Grunge 27, 28, 155 Gucci 70, 71 Halo 2 (video game) 55, 57 Harebrained Schemes 129 Half-Life (video game) 13 Hammer & Coop (film) 105
(see also MINI) Hans Brinker Budget Hotel 109, 110, 113 Harvey Dent 59, 60 Hayward Gallery 136 HBO 77, 102 Heavy Rain (video game) 130 Heidegger, Martin 161 Hemingway, Ernest 144 Heymann, Neil 70, 72, 165, 176 Hilton, Paris 86, 89, 105 Hip-Hop 27, 28, 34, 63, 67, 68, 72, 73 The Hire campaign (BMW) - Ambush 103 - Beat the Devil 104 - Chose 103 - The Follow 103, 104 - Hostage 105 - Powder Keg 104 - Star 104 Hirst, Damien 13, 87, 88, 138 Holiday Inn 36, 162 Homeland (TV) 106 Homo emoticus 22 Honesty box 117, 118, 120, 121, 168 (See also Radiohead 10, 117-121, 168, 169) Hsieh, Tehching 136 The Huffington Post (blog) 125 Hulk (film) 103 I Love Bees campaign 55, 57, 58 (see also Microsoft) Idea Writers, The (Iezzi) 10, 160, 163, 164, 167, 168 IDEO 109, 113 Iezzi, Teressa 160, 163, 164, 165, 167, 168 Inarritu, Alejandro Gonzaìlez 104, 154 “Inattentional blindness” 25, 161 Indiana Jones (film) 127, 169 Infographics 93-98, 166, 167 In Rainbows 117, 119, 120, 121, 168, 169
(see also Radiohead) Instagram 17, 23, 40, 62, 86 The Invisible Gorilla experiment 25, 161 iTunes 117, 120 Jackass 112, 173 Jackson, Michael 27 Jaguar 106 James Bond (film) 147 Jaws (film) 20 Jay-Z 63, 67-73, 164, 165 Jenkins, Henry 34, 160 Joker, The 58-62 (see also Batman) Jolie, Angelina 127 Jones, Michael 38, 39 Jonze, Spike 102, 159 Joyce, James 154 Jung, Carl 51, 165 Just Do It campaign 40 (see also Nike) Kahneman, Daniel 21, 47, 161 Kar-wai, Wong 103 Kessels, Erik 109-113, 160, 168, 176 KesselsKramer 109, 110, 112, 160, 168, 176 (See also The Worst Hotel in the World) Kickstarter 118, 119, 120, 145, 169 Kill Bill (Tarantino) 130 Killing Joke, The 61, 62, 164 KISS 117 Klein, Yves 136 Koons, Jeff 138 Kurtzweil, Ray 39 LA Weekly 89, 166 Lanier, Jaron 39, 162, 163 Ledger, Heath 59, 60, 62, 164 Lee, Ang 103 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (video game) 156 Levi’s 40 Levine, Ken 159 Lewis, Damian 106
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Lieu, Alex 58, 59, 61, 62, 164, 176 Limbaugh, Rush 81 LinkedIn 5, 77, 119, 168 Long Halloween, The 61, 164 Los Angeles International Short Film Festival 105 Lost (TV) 138, 144 Lost Experience (ARG) 55 Lucas, George 137
104, 157, 166, 167 New Wave 155 Nike 10, 16, 40, 155 Nine Inch Nails 188, 120 Nintendo 126, 156 Nirvana 27 No Art Piece (1985-86) 136 Noosphere 163, 39, 43 N.W.A. 27
Mad Men (TV)69 Madame Bovary (Flaubert) 156 Madonna 104 Magnolia (Anderson) 34 Majestic (ARG) 55 Mamet, David 69 Marlboro Man 144 Married with Children (TV) 27 Mary Poppins 149 Maslow, Abraham 51 massclusivity 148 Matrix, The (film) 34 McQueen, Alexander 127 Metal Gear (video game) 130 metrosexual 148 Microsoft 10, 55, 57, 67, 68, 69, 72, 129, 164, 165 MINI 105, 167 MMORPGs 63 MOMA 8, 86, 105 Monopoly (game) 161 Moon, Keith 36, 37, 162 Morrissey 120, 168, 169 The Moth (podcast) 7 MTV 27, 34, 44, 102 Murakami, Takashi 138 My Little Pony 146 MySpace 120
Obrist, Hans-Ulrich 166, 87, 90 Oldman, Gary 104 Open Happiness campaign 40 (see also Coca-Cola) “Oracle illusion” 39, 163 Owen, Clive 101, 103, 104
Netscape 34 Neurath, Otto 94, 95, 166 Nevermind (Nirvana) 27 Newsweek 127 New York (magazine) 78, 79, 81 New Yorker (magazine) 68, 77, 88, 160, 161, 162, 166, 169, 170 New York Times 10, 87, 93, 95, 98,
Pac-Man 34, 128 Palmer, Amanda 120, 168, 169 Penris, Rob 110 Peters, Tom 47, 160, 163 Pinterest 17, 23, 28, 62 Pixar 80, 156 PlayStation (Sony) 126, 127, 129 Pong 128 Pop Art 155 Pop culture 8, 9, 10, 13, 15, 17, 23, 34, 55-139, 144, 146, 150 Postmodernism 155 Predictably Irrational (Gladwell) 161 Punk 155 Quadrigram 98 ‘rabbit hole’ 63 Radiohead 10, 117-121, 168, 169 Rauschenberg, Robert 136 Razoo 118 reality TV 79, 88, 137, 151 Red Bull 10, 165 Resident Evil (video game) 127 Reznor, Trent 118, 120, 121, 169 Rhythm 28, 29, 30 Ritchie, Guy 104 Rocky (film) 29 Roseanne (TV) 27
Rourke, Mickey 104 RSA Films 101, 104 RSS feeds 9 Run DMC 70, 71 Run Lola Run (Tykwer) 34 Sachs, Jonah 10, 32, 51, 160, 162, 164, 170 Saturday Night Live 147 Schwartz, Barry 7, 160 Schwartz, Rob 6, 45, 160, 163, 176 Scott, Ridley 104, 106 The Second Law of Thermodynamics 150 Sedaris, David 90, 166 Segall, Ken 159 Sequence - action prologue 130 - Bond opening sequence 147 Seven Basic Plots, The (Booker) 51, 164 Shakespeare 148 Shallows, The (Carr) 25, 160, 161, 162 Silicon Valley 23, 48, 49, 78, 80, 117, 157 Siltanen, Rob 159 Simons, Daniel 25, 161 Simmons, Annette 160 The Simpsons (TV) 27 The Sims (video game) 128 Sinek, Simon 43, 47, 163 “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nirvana) 27 Six Feet Under (TV) 102 Skarsgård, Stellan 104 Slashies 102, 167 Smarter Planet platform (IBM) 155 The Smiths 120 Smart Car 155 Soderberg, Todd 159 Solutionism platform (Dow Chemical) 155 Sopranos, The (TV) 102 Sossamon, Shannyn 106 Spice Girl 127
Storytelling Index | 175
Spiegel & Grau 67, 68, 69, 73, 165 Spotify 120 Springsteen, Bruce 88, 151 Square Enix 125, 127, 169 Star Wars 146 Start With Why (Sinek) 43, 163 Stein, Lara 79, 80, 165, 176 Storytelling Animal, The (Gottschall) 9, 160 Story Factor, The (Simmons) 9, 160 Storytelling - arc 11, 29, 34, 97, 98, 103, 130, 147 - character 29, 34, 46, 61, 98, 25, 129-132, 161, 169 - cinematic 12, 55, 56, 61, 101 103, 104, 127, 128, 129, 147, 157 - cold open 4, 59, 147, - construction 15, 88, 109, 155 - gurus 9, 11, 143, 175 - immersive 5, 10, 13, 17, 23, 55, 56, 67, 93, 127, 129, 170, - narrative 6-11, 13, 14, 16, 20, 23, 24, 29, 30, 40, 42, 45, 46, 48, 49, 56, 58, 59, 63, 69, 73, 88, 89, 90, 94, 104, 105, 129, 130, 131, 135, 16, 138, 157, 160, 164 - nonlinear 34, 131, 143 - renaissance 5, 6-8, 13, 17, 23, 42 - rhythm 28, 29, 30 - tension 11, 14, 15, 29, 72, 103, 130, 135, 158, 160, 169 - traditional 6, 15, 23, 34, 35, 48, 59, 128, 130, 163, 168 - transmedia 45, 55, 56, 57, 59, 101, 143 - voice 45, 46, 111, 153 Strife, Cloud 13, 14 Sundance Festival 78 Super Mario 64 (video game) 127 Tarantino, Quentin 34, 130, 154 TBWA Worldwide 6, 45, 176 TBWA/Chiat/Day 159 TED Talks 43, 77, 78, 79, 144, 147, 156, 165, 168
TEDx 77-80, 145, 176 Tetris (video game) 128 Think Different campaign 40, 143 - see also Apple Thinking, Fast and Slow (Kahneman) 21 This American Life (podcast) 7 Thurman, Uma 130 THX 1138 (film) 137 Time (magazine) 127 Titanium Lion award 67, 68 TiVO 105 Tomb Raider (video game) 13, 126-131, 125, 169 Toy Story 3 (film) 156 True Blood (TV) 102 truth 109 Tufte, Edward 95, 97 Tulpenmanie (tulip mania) 31 Tumblr 28 Twain, Mark 121 Twitter 5, 6, 17, 24, 28, 33, 36, 40, 41, 49, 72, 86, 94, 103, 120, 137, 150, 161 Tykwer, Tom 34, 156 U2 127 ‘Uncanny valley’ effect 126 “Until We Rich” (Ice Cube) 27 Up (film) 29 Uprising (Goodson) 155, 170 Vanishing Point (film) 29 Vice (magazine) 112 Video games 7, 13, 26, 34, 55, 56, 123, 126, 128, 129, 130, 147, 158, 169, 170 Vine 28 A Visit from the Goon Squad (Egan) 157, 170 Visual.ly 98, 166, 167 Vedral, Vlatko 170 The Voice (TV) 151 Von Neumann, John 156 Wagner, Matt 105 Wall and Piece (Banksy) 87, 88,
89, 90, 166 Wall, Jeff 87 Warner Brothers 55 weapons of mass reaction 33 webisodes 101, 105 Warhol, Andy 136 Weisman, Jordan 129, 131, 164, 169, 170, 176 Whitaker, Forest 104 Wigwam Motel 111 Wikipedia 11, 39, 77, 96, 150, 155, 162, 163 The Wire (TV) 156 Wired (magazine) 130, 161, 166, 168, 169 Winning the Story Wars (Sachs) 10, 32, 51, 160, 162, 164, 170 Woolf, Virginia 154 WordPress 17, 28 World of Warcraft (video game) 129 The Worst Hotel in the World campaign (Kesselskramer)109 - Improve Your Immune 113 - Unique Design 113 - Not Included 113 - Now More Than Ever 113 - Just Like Home 113 - It Can’t Get Any Worse 113 - A Convenient Truth 113 - Check In, Check Out 113 WrestleMania 44 Wrigley 62 WWW 81 Xena: Warrior Princess (TV) 127 Yahoo! 34 Yoda 128 Yorke, Thom 117, 118, 168 You Are Not a Gadget (Lanier) 162, 163 YouTube 16, 17, 28, 44, 48, 49, 78, 105, 119, 157, 160, 161, 163 Zaltman, Gerald 21, 47, 161 Zappos 81
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS It is impossible to write a book that paints such broad strokes without leaning on the original insight of others. A number of people weighed in on this book by openly offering up their personal and professional opinions, most often at my urging, sometimes unsolicited. Thanks to those who ignored the time clock to engage in unusually long telephone conversations with me about their storytelling exploits. I’m referring particularly to Susan Bonds and Alex Lieu at 42 Entertainment, Neil Heymann at Droga5, Lara Stein at TEDx and Erik Kessels of KesselsKramer. Not to forget Jordan Weisman, who bootcamped me in gaming circa 1995. To the boys at Lemon Scented Tea who encouraged me to follow my storytelling instincts. To Dan Policy for offering suggestions from the terrace of Bottega, nudging me to contemplate the world from a top manager’s perspective. And to Rob Schwartz over at TBWA Worldwide, who seemed to have a lucid answer for everything I threw his way. Of those who read the book line for line, Jen Hale deserves a shiny medal for helping me tighten up a story that at times threatened to run wild in every conceivable direction. As does Kimberly Weich-Amazeen, who rose above and beyond the call of sisterly love with her careful and enthusiastic comments. Behind the high-minded corporate title hides a professional editor. Maybe in another life. Then there’s Erik Hoogendorp at Jihaa, who not only designed the iconic cover for this book, but who also urged me to amp up the title so he and other designers would actually want to read it. Not to be forgotten are the countless coffee shops up and down the California coastline whose strong roasts and curated music helped me keep pace with my deadlines. I’ll just go ahead and name the best of them: Verve, Old Soul, Four Barrel Coffee, Temple, Kreuzberg, Barista, Lone Pine and Bluebird. Their names alone still deliver a mild rush to the head (and fingertips). Finally, to Jorunn Leemeijer, whose contribution as a collaborator and story generator were invaluable. She argued valiantly for a number of stories, and won. As per usual.