The truth about story-telling


  • Business
  • Saturday, 03 Oct 2015

Lethal weapon: Tham says brands today are competing with each other for survival and those that have a better story to tell will prosper.

It can be a powerful tool to ensure brand success

FOR a product or a brand to be impactful, it must have a good story behind it, according to Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide chief creative officer Tham Khai Meng.

Story-telling can actually package the entire brand story emotionally, he stresses, adding that it is a powerful tool for advertisers to ensure the success of their brands in the market.

“Be it in the form of a film or any other mode of communications, a brand can still build a highly emotional story using these platforms as there is sound, music, plot as well as a sequel. It has all the “tricks” of a great story teller.

“Every brand has a story. The older the brand, the better the story gets. For example, Ogilvy & Mather has a story revolving behind its founder David Ogilvy and Kentucky Fried Chicken about its founder Colonel Harland David Sanders,’’ Tham tells StarBizWeek in an interview.

He points out that even a new brand has a story behind it. Towards this end, he adds unlike an older brand, the newer one has to be “interrogated” until its strength is discovered for a story to be build on.

Besides the story, a brand still needs an idea, insights and it should be executed brilliantly for it to be effective, he notes.

Elaborating on the importance of a good story, Tham says a story helps a product or a brand connects better. Consumers are able to remember a story much easier compared to facts and figures, he explains.

On creativity and story telling, he says it is seamless. To tell a great story, he adds an agency has to be creative as it has to get the right plot, need good creative people and script writers for the brand to shine and be effective.

Citing an example, he says with the emergence of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.com Inc he says the cable TV business is being impacted, among others, because these companies now provide better stories with episodes and sequels.

Bloomberg has reported that Netflix Inc was planning to enter Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea by early next year as the online video-streaming company races to complete a global roll-out.

The company would begin by streaming a selection of popular TV shows, movies and kid-friendly programming. Most would come with local subtitles, and further details such as pricing would be disclosed later, Netflix said in a statement.

Time Warner Inc’s HBO, Hulu and Amazon.com have all boosted their online offerings this year, while Apple Inc is considering its own video-streaming service, according to the wire agency.

Tham says brands today are competing with each other for survival and those that have a better story to tell, among others, will prosper. With the social media coming on stream, advertisers should be extra careful that the story or information emanating from this platform is not swayed and should be morally correct and does not veer from its original story theme.

Tham is one of the leading experts in the area of advertising and communications and has made history by leading Ogilvy & Mather to win Network of the Year at Cannes four times in a row in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

The agency’s 2013 win came in the same year that client Coca-Cola was named Creative Marketer of the Year at Cannes and was accompanied by a record-shattering haul of 155 Lions, including 4 Grand Prix.

Tham has recently been dubbed “one of the world’s most influential people in the communication business” by AdAge. He now oversees the work of the entire agency’s worldwide network, including all of its global offices.

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