The simple story test: a dad, a daughter and a basketball hoop

Here’s a quick test from “Winning the Story Wars” to see if you are using the power of stories in your marketing and communications. And here’s an example of one of the top ads of 2014 that does a great job of storytelling.

As Jonah Sachs said, the more you can answer “yes” to these questions, the better your stories and communication will be.

Is it tangible? Can you “touch” and “see” an idea? Do you have a who, what, where and when? The ad shows a dad, a daughter and a basketball hoop in the home’s driveway. It takes you through time as the daughter grows up and heads off to college.

Is it relatable? Can you relate to the characters? Can you understand their motivations, whether good or bad? In the ad, the father buys the basketball hoop as a Christmas present and bonds with his daughter by playing basketball with her.

Is it immersive? Does it feel like you’ve experienced something? Can you learn something from the characters’ experiences? You see multiple scenes of the role that basketball, and the hoop itself, plays in the family’s life over time. It’s not just a gift that sits on a shelf.

Is it memorable? Are there scenes and metaphors that help us remember the message? Can you recall what you saw or read? One of the ad’s themes is that the girl proves to be really good at shooting baskets. Several scenes of the “swish” bring the point home. I won’t forget the last scene of the father alone with the ball.

Is it emotional? Do you feel something rather than just think something? I felt the highs and lows of the father’s experience, as his daughter grows up and leaves, and the daughter’s joy at the game.

The ad sums up its story well with an on-screen message: “Give a gift that matters.”

Thanks again to Jonah Sachs for writing a book with power to make our communications work better.

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