Content 360: everything is a story

A whimsical tale about dragonfruit, perhaps? Publisher Mary Maddever asserts the value of storytelling in our April issue.

This story appears in the April 2015 issue of strategy.

Janet Kestin’s Forum column in this issue is well worth your time, and not just because of the scintillating lede (go on and skip ahead to it here). Coles Notes: she says marketers need to be better storytellers, and explains how to be more riveting in the boardroom and with the consumer.

It’s not a new thing. Spinning a good yarn has been the super power of most great leaders. But brands have to be gutsier to get attention now. You need to try different things. Triumphing over inertia and selling something unproven requires potent storytelling. And the pace of change keeps accelerating, so the degree of innovation needed to make a difference has become radical. Those storytelling skills have to do more than illustrate a point – they have to paint a new vision.

We can see that in our Cause + Action winners, with the Samsung partnership with Autism Canada being a great example of new vision. “Look at Me” is an app developed in Korea that helps kids with autism make better eye contact and read facial expressions, and it launched here. Samsung Canada loaded the app on Galaxy tablets and gave them to families living with autism. For a brand that helps people build connections using tech, this is a powerful story.

Tech is enabling incredible new ways to connect, but the brands that resonate have compelling stories, and that’s the content we share.

Because of changes to how we consume content (and our TV industry’s slow response), the recent CRTC regulatory reset will have an impact on Canadian storytelling. While designed to create a better proposition for consumers and a better shot at success for Cancon, the funding emphasis on quality over quantity, decreased Cancon levels during daytime and lack of genre protection for specialty also point to potentially less Canadian TV content volume.

But it also points to a bigger role for brands to play. Hits are a numbers game – the more swings, the more likely you’ll make contact. So there’s an opportunity to collaborate. At strategy and Playback‘s branded content event in March, we launched BCONXchange, a platform for marketers and media agencies to find projects that Canadian producers are working on. Originally designed as a database of new programs, Xchange 2.0 now has a focus on also finding partners with expertise in different genres, to make collaboration easier. Producers and media companies with new programs in development or branded content-suitable library content, should be in touch with Media in Canada’s Val Maloney ( to get your projects up on the BCON Xchange website.

As brands move more into content streams, keeping the story front and centre will win. That same storytelling approach brought to entertainment should spill out beyond traditional content channels. Take loyalty programs. Some have mastered pretty compelling personalization (thanks for my Kicking Horse bonus points, PC Plus), but if one of these apps speaks to me with a sense of humour, spins a whimsical tale about what do with dragonfruit, I’d be even more sold.

Cheers, mm

Image courtesy of Shutterstock