Telling Your Brand Story
decode the recurring dream patterns of patients from different parts of the world. The best commercials, like all truly effective communications, strike a deep nerve or reveal a deep truth, and the responses to that universal and timeless power can be codiﬁed and understood. For example, consider the characteristics of empathy, one of the seven dimensions of viewer reward examined in the Viewer Reward Proﬁle (VRP) technique. Empathy reveals the extent to which the viewer participates in the events and feelings in the ad, assumes some imaginary role in the situation, and feels an emotional involvement with what is happening. Empathy can be an emotionally rewarding experience, allowing the viewer to enhance his self-image or express his values. Rituals and rites of passage, the depiction of close, warm relationships, and larger-than-life characters often engender high empathy scores, but the situations, relationships, or characters do not have to be slavishly realistic to engender empathy.* (Mythic ﬁgures and places such as the Pillsbury Doughboy and the “valley” of the Green Giant generate above-average ratings on empathy.) The Leo Burnett Company, one of the original participants in this research, used the testing and the theories to support and extend its legacy of creating deep, enduring advertising campaigns and symbols, such as the Marlboro man, the Jolly Green Giant, and the Keebler elves, to name a few. Later, Joe Plummer brought the technique with him to Young & Rubicam, using it to support and enrich that company’s understanding of creative work guided by insight— great, story-driven campaigns that won industry acclaim and marketplace success for brands such as Hallmark, AT&T, Merrill Lynch, and Johnson & Johnson. Other agencies got there in their own way as well. Under the leadership of Phil Dusenberry and Ted Sann, two of the great storytellers of the commercial world, BBD&O was turning out one delightful and enduring story after another for the Pepsi brand. When they were intuited by brilliant art directors and copywriters, these little “brand stories” were phenomenally successful, and the VRP gave agencies a tool to quantitatively assess and defend advertising that moved minds and hearts while it sold products. But these creators and writers, even the best of them, often came up dry, * Ibid.