Storytelling in adverts: using memorable characters [part 2]

storytelling in adverts

advertising actors

What is your latest advert memorable for? Are viewers remembering what you intended? Or are they missing the message because of the poor casting decision that is now making it a bad advert?

What’s too good for you could sabotage you

As an option, brands have the opportunity to create characters that stick around and appear over and over for storytelling in adverts. Although this could be good for building a strong bond between the characters and the consumers, it could get annoying enough to be self-sabotaging.

It’s commonly believed that consumers may eventually stop hearing the message and instead shift focus to the character. They would start thinking about how different the actor is dressed now, their new haircut, the mistakes in the advert (E.g. Is that a new house or did they change its colour?), and so on. The list can go on.

This could be due to at least two reasons: the creative heads thought this would be a great idea or there’s a lack of talent to act in adverts.

But he is ‘everywhere’ on radio ads

Do you know anyone who claims they never forget a face? Well, they are the same people who will most likely notice when the same recurring characters keep appearing in various adverts (the useless dad who buys fast-food for dinner when mum is out, the driver whose car gets damaged by a handyman, or the Emo teenager who won’t be seen with the family).

These adverts may not necessarily be for the same product or brand but the plot lines are similar although with different endings. Storytelling in adverts… it seems to work better when everything is new or at least the characters should be unique.

And now he’s a ski jumper

Consumers sometimes tune out and stop hearing messages because of recurring actors or talents appearing in adverts for different brands. John Doe the super talent was just a week ago selling cars in a dealership advert, a couple of days ago offering a mobile phone on the radio and yesterday he was screaming loudly on speakers trying to sell us some skiing gear at the outdoor shop.

Next thing you know, Jane Doe appears in an advert as a wealthy wife who just got approval for a new gold credit card for big spenders. Then next time we see her she’s in another advert as a homeless low-income, single mother who was helped by ABC Organisation to find emergency housing within 24 hours.

This sometimes happens because there’s a new totally awesome talent (or an actor) everyone wants or whose agent is trying to get more work for. Good for them, but it can cause consumers to not take the message seriously, because the talent or actor is representing many brands and therefore not authentic enough to be trusted.

Memorable for the right reason!

Here’s a short test: Think about the latest television advert you can actually recall. Is there a specific character that you remember? What is it about them that you found interesting? When you think of the brand that the advert was for, do you think of this character? If someone was talking about this character in real life, would you be able to recall which brand it was for?

The best and most memorable advert characters then are the ones that:

  • are interesting and/or did something interesting
  • make us feel something for them (positive or negative emotions)
  • have an experience and/or have dreams and passions similar to ours
  • express what the brand stands for and what it’s offering the consumer (e.g Red Bull and extreme sports)
  • unique, not a copycat idea
  • are definitely not a borrowed talent from another successful advert.

Read part 1 here – Storytelling in adverts: using memorable characters [part 1] 

Which character have you connected well with through storytelling in adverts? Which adverts have influenced you most, from a marketer’s point-of-view? Tell us in the comments!

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