Goodby: We need to be better storytellers

Jeff Goodby has made an impassioned plea to the creative advertising fraternity to persist with individual storytelling at a time when large-scale multiplatform ideas increasingly dominate.

Goodby argued advertising's storytelling abilities are “going down” because of a lack of investment. He said the emphasis, especially at award shows, on big multiplatform campaign ideas has seen the decline of individual self-contained stories.

He gave the example of the Dove Evolution or the Obama 2008 campaign which were powerful campaigns as a collective but had few individual campaign pieces which told good stories.

“I feel like [individual stories are] being devalued, especially in the eyes of the advertising people and maybe even in the eyes of the world, because they're not bigger, more complex things,” he said.

Goodby argued that consumers will often only be exposed to one element of a campaign and are much more likely to remember it if that individual piece stood up without the whole.

“The individual pieces fall down a bit but the idea as an overarching thing holds up. It's not about a simple story any more, but a collection of things. That's kind of my problem today. I feel like we have to take advantage of multiplatform campaigns. We have to take more advantage of each piece of those multiplatform things and make them great and make them stories in and of themselves,” he added.

Goodby also took a shot at agencies, including his own, for making flashy award videos. He said: “The entry film is so high gloss. In many ways we make things that are good award videos but not things that work in the real world. We're getting so good at this stuff that I suspect we've lost our focus on making the individual pieces as good as they can be.

“We’re the last bastion of people to make stories and we should take every possible opportunity to make stories that are deeper and more meaningful. We are the people in advertising I think that has the chance to bring this back."

Goodby was the keynote speaker at this year's Caxton Seminar and Awards, held on Hamilton Island in Queensland this past weekend.

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