Once Upon A Time…

A VP from Ketchum Chicago got the opportunity to attend a session on storytelling presented as part of Chicago Ideas Week. She braved the windy, October weather to venture to the popular Goodman Theatre where she listened to authors, videographers and dancers (OH MY!) all speak about what why storytelling is so important and what makes a good story. Here are some learnings that can be applied to marketing.

  • We retain information better when it is presented through story because stories evoke emotion and memories are formed through emotion.  Imagine all the marketing messages consumers are inundated with on a daily basis. At the end of the day, we want our brands to be the most memorable (in a good way) and we can do that by telling the most emotionally evocative story.
  • Have you ever met someone who tells the same story over and over again (usually after a few drinks)? There are many ways to tell a story: orally, visually, through song, etc. Sometimes, you can get away with repeating yourself by telling the story through these different formats. For most brands, we have one or two key messages or stories we are trying to convey. By finding different ways to tell the same story, we can tell it time and again, helping to reinforce our key message for our stakeholders.
  • Become an anthropologist. We heard from a fascinating author named AJ Jacobs who practices what he calls “immersion storytelling” where he observes and participates in a topic at the same time which helps him to tell better stories. For example, in order to better tell religious stories to his children, he read the bible and then lived by every single rule in it for an entire year including be fruitful and multiply – he had twins! We can probably all do a better job of living the brands we create stories for by using more of their products on a daily basis or doing a better job of trying to walk in our target’s shoes.


Lauren Sugarman is an SVP, Strategic & Creative Planner who works with Ketchum client across categories including food, retail and CPG. She’s also a children’s book author, mom or three and Bravo-holic.