Storytelling, perfected by a freelance copywriter to engage, sell, entertain and inform, is going mainstream. While you’re used to seeing it on websites, in magazines and newspapers, in digital advertising and social media, and listening to it on the radio, it’s only now creeping into long-form television advertising. And I love it.
I was watching Sky News and an advert lasting maybe two minutes came on about Petronas, the petrol brand. Let’s face it, fuel can be a dry subject, but when the ‘infommercial’ was about Petronas’ relationship with Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes Formula One team, and how its expertise helped propel F1 cars around a track rather fast, then it became interesting. If I recall correctly, the advert included soundbites with Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas, team executive director Toto Wolff as well as Petronas suits. It was detailed, educational – and it did its job because I had never really thought about Petronas in any shape or form before.
A few weeks later, I was watching Sky News again (what a time to be alive), and another long-form advert came on, this time by DHL, the global delivery giant, which had chosen the perfect sporting talent to sponsor in sailor Susie Goodall, 28. The ad, full of dramatic ocean footage and, to be honest, some quite hair-raising implications about what could go wrong, tells the story of how Susie will become the first woman to attempt The Golden Globe Race, a solo, non-stop, 30,000-mile journey around the world, via the five Great Capes. The race has not been run since Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was the only man to finish it in 1968.
This is no difficult journey, it’s an incredible challenge, and I found myself wanting to support Ms Goodall, cheer her on, and follow her progress once the race starts later this month, ending at least nine months later. Of course, watch the ad closely and DHL is on the sails. The boat is peppered with the corporate yellow and red, and there was a chat with the CEO. A global delivery company helping a young, round-the-world sailor achieve her dreams – it just made sense.
So often we see corporates spending a fortune on celebrity or sporting talent, but failing to make the best use of it. But in Susie Goodall, DHL has the wind in its sails. The use of the long-form TV ad was well planned and executed; understated yet exciting. It certainly influenced me to take action, which is the aim of every copywriter when they tell you a story. I Googled Ms Goodall to find out more about her challenge. I watched more video clips, and I now follow her on Twitter. Each time I’ll seek an update during her epic voyage, DHL will be in my subconscious, if not in front of my eyes.
Clever. Very clever.