The best stories don’t write themselves. We like to imagine great minds sitting at their desk, penning their next masterpiece in a single night, inspired by their muse, but of course that’s not how it really works. A great story never happens by chance – it takes strategic thinking, a carefully developed narrative and a well-researched plot to make sense. It’s what we call the ‘Frankenstein Approach’. We’re Mary Shelley creating Dr Frankenstein, who in turn gives life to his own monster who he unleashes on the world.
Mary Shelley didn’t need a human biology degree to write about the creation of Frankenstein’s monster. She knew what she was doing because that’s how stories come to life too. You strategize, you research, you analyse, and you knit it all together with a clear plot thread. That’s how agencies create campaigns too. We tell digital stories that bring campaigns to life. We research, gather the parts, develop the strategic narrative and collect the data to release our creation into the digital world.
When creating campaigns, the first step for an agency is to look at all the pieces we have to work with. As Dr Frankenstein would stare at his collected body parts and plan how to put them together, so we plan how best to assemble the components into something new with an original narrative that we know will work.
We never lose sight of the plot and the ending, remaining true to the campaign and brand objectives – from start to finish, right down to the data we will collect to prove success.
Once the strategy is in place, we work on the story we’re going to tell, and how we’re going to tell it.
What motivates the human mind? Well, curiosity and discovery certainly do. In digital campaigns, creating intrigue and laying out a rewarding voyage of discovery are some of the best ways to tell your story and bring potential customers to your door.
Great creative fuels the imagination, adding to the immersive experience and absorbing the viewer. Exploring and researching the product, service or brand helps us imagine our own Frankenstein’s monster. This can be anything from an emotional connection to the qualities of what we’re promoting; something magical we know will engage the audience.
It takes both an inquisitive nature and meticulous market research and analysis to identify the plot devices and triggers that will enthral our audience and make them fall in love with our leading character – the product or brand that the campaign is designed to promote.
It’s important to fully develop the plot and your characters before releasing them on the world. Make them relatable, likeable, know where your creation is going, how it will act, and who is going to see it. Dr Frankenstein wasn’t prepared for what his creature would do, but Mary Shelley was. The true creator behind Frankenstein’s monster understood her readers well and used that understanding to write a masterpiece. As Shelley successfully spooks and captivates her readers, we analyse our target audience too, identifying ways to surprise and delight the real person we’re addressing.
To ensure success, we really get to know our ‘reader’. We learn what they already read, watch and listen to, where they go and who they speak to. We discover what gets their attention and feed this into our storytelling. It’s all about knowing your customer and writing the perfect storyline for them, much as Mary Shelley did.
Sew it all together
Let’s go back to the table where all the pieces of our story were laid out, and where the strategic plan was made. Does it make sense? After the co-creation, insight mining and channel analysis, every single message and tactic must link back to the initial strategy, our storyline and plot.
Finally, our creature is ready to roam free. But unlike Frankenstein’s monster, we already know where it’s going and why it’s going there. All the pieces are neatly fitted together to deliver a captivating narrative that will spook the viewer exactly as we planned. In the end, we’re not Dr Frankenstein – we are Shelley, perfectly executing her storytelling strategy, but with a new, and lovable, monster every time.
Andrew Woodger is Strategy Director at the Purple Agency, leading our data, CRM, strategy and media teams. He has over 15 years senior client-side marketing experience, including 8 years in the automotive industry. Prior to joining Purple, he headed Equifax Europe’s marketing data business.