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Telling Your Brand Story

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most relevant to the mini-stories we call advertising, the archetypes are often powerfully communicated in story form. When the film E.T. became a rip-roaring success, many of us marveled at the fact that a homely little extraterrestrial could win so many hearts. But our archetypal analysis identified a pattern of story elements that had been recurring in stories throughout the ages: the “Tale of the Foundling,” a Caregiver story for children. In this tale, a small person, usually a child, starts out feeling dislocated and lonely, but then discovers a creature even more vulnerable than he. The child immediately becomes the protector. The child begins to feel stronger, minute by minute, as he and his charge are able to communicate with each other magically, defying differences in species or kind. Their relationship is kept secret from the more powerful creatures (usually adults), but expands to include a circle of other vulnerable ones. Together, they are able to fend off the threats to the little creature’s well-being. One adult—usually a mother and always a woman—is allowed into their protective circle, becoming their ally. Eventually outwitting their predators, the little folk themselves willingly part from their beloved charge, returning it to its natural home so that it can develop freely and properly. Almost every generation of children has its Foundling stories. Such stories help the children realize that while they must eventually separate from what they love and need the most—their mothers— they can not only survive that separation but even thrive. They can do so because learning that they can care for another helps them know they can eventually care for themselves. Experiencing the story vicariously helps children develop. And remembering the story—even unconsciously—helps us cope, even as adults. We are probably not even remotely aware of the source of our strong feelings at the end of E.T., but it is there. Deep within us, the memory of that separation, as well as the triumph of surviving it, is stirred. Given the tremendous value of the foundling myth, it may come as no surprise that when Margaret Mark and Paul Wolansky, a film professor at the University of Southern California, reconstructed the story patterns of over 500 successful films over the past 50 years, a popular Foundling story repeatedly emerged at regular intervals. Almost every generation needed, and got, its own Foundling. (And we

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype  

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype  

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