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Telling Your Brand Story


plorer to feel connected. To the strains of Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” a man in a plane sends a fax to his wife, inviting her to go out on their front porch at a certain time that night. When she does, she sees the very plane he is in flying overhead amidst the stars. The “stories” campaign beautifully demonstrates how one archetype, the Caregiver, helps a range of others. The stories themselves are powerful narratives, rooted in deep structures that are at once both familiar and new: We immediately recognize the profound human truth they contain, and yet we are surprised that they are being retold in such a fresh and unexpected way. In fact, it is the surprising familiarity of archetypal stories that makes us instantly recognize them, even in the flash of a 30-second spot. Carl Hixon, one of the creative greats from the glory days of Leo Burnett, summed it up this way: It took me many years and many lumps to value the familiar, because, as a young copywriter, my instincts were to shun the familiar and to embrace the contemporary. But I learned. One of my teachers was Jimmy Durante, “the schnoz,” with whom I worked for several years in the 1960s. Durante applied the theory of familiarity to his humor. There are two kinds of humor, he believed. There’s humor of surprise that confronts you with something unexpected, and there’s humor of the familiar—the kind that people love to hear over and over again, like kids listening to a familiar bedtime story. The one wears out the instant the surprise is over. The other improves with age. Durante’s performance was built on the latter—on the beloved familiar—old routines the audience knew by heart, and would have been disappointed not to hear. “Archetypal brands and stories are familiar because they belong to our inner life,” Hixon put it, “just as surely as the memory of the toys we had when we were kids, or the music that was woven into our first love affair, or the way our old dog smelled when he was wet and warm.” We recognize and embrace them because the concepts they represent are larger than the product or service; the product or service is simply one aspect of their meaning. The story, of course, can be told in print as well as on TV. Some

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype  

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype