It is that time of year again, when the big names create their Christmas Adverts. John Lewis over the last few years has created fabulous stories – the one from two year’s ago with the animated bear is ingrained in my children’s memories (especially since it came with its own ipad app). Last year’s penguins had us all saying “Awww”.
This year, the story is about reaching out to those who are lonely or a long way away.
But instead of just watching it and thinking “that was amazing”, let’s look at it in detail to discover what you can learn from it about being Unforgettable..
Within the first twenty seconds of the advert, we see something extraordinary. The girl looks surprised and then zeroes in on a house in a crater on the moon. A truly “attention grabbing” moment for those watching. You want to know what happens, who this person is. The film made me curious and spellbound and unable to click away until I find out what happens next.
Keep It Simple
There are only two characters in this film – the man and the girl. The more characters or details you have in a story, the more your audience have to concentrate to keep track (think Tom Clancy novel). This one is as simple as it can be. Two strong, clear, contrasting characters that your audience can relate to.
Make it Vivid
The expression on the man’s face as he looks up is so filled with loneliness, you can’t help but feel moved by him. This contrasts brilliantly with the excitement of the girl waving. Just 35 seconds in and there is this beautiful tension in the story – between the happy girl and the sad man. They bring those emotions to life using vivid visuals – what more perfect expression of loneliness is a man sat on a bench on a planet all on his own? Then the lyrics of the song echo the feelings “my body is young, but my mind is very old” as the camera zooms into the man’s eyes.
Break the Spell
If your audience feels too sad, there’s a risk that they might turn off to break the spell. Instead, John Lewis does this for us. We have been touched by the old man’s plight, so the video moves into humour, to break the tension. The cleverly shot ladder to the moon gets us all thinking “there’s an idea…” and its followed by the girl’s creative attempts to make contact. Because this video is not about sending a letter as such, but about creating a connection with someone.
And we wonder just how this problem might be solved, as the lyrics make it seem impossible by reminding us “you are half the world away.”
Happily Ever After
There is the girl’s delighted face as she opens something we cannot see (what can it be? we wonder) and then hugs her mum. The man looks even more dejected with his head bowed. Just as we begin to lose faith, the balloon-fuelled parcel arrives – a gloriously colourful package that breaks through the monotone grey of the moon. The audience now whoops and hollers – the problem is solved, their tension is released and we have a happily ever after. The man knows he is loved – how wonderful.
This is when I started crying my eyes out. And because it has touched me that deeply, I know that this story will last for years in my mind, body and soul.
Not only that, but the first morning it was on Facebook, it was spreading like wildfire. Because we all love a happily ever after story. And this one made us feel good.
John Lewis have tapped into something within all of us. Something simple and powerful: our desire to feel special, to feel loved.
The next time you want to create something that is truly Unforgettable, try taking a leaf out of the John Lewis’ playbook.
Your audience doesn’t think in words. They instantly convert the words you say when you are speaking and presenting into pictures. That’s just how it works. This works to your advantage if you can deliver words that create powerful, vivid images that will stick in your audience’s minds for months or years to come.
But there is a trap within this image lark. Especially if your talk or presentation is peppered with “no” or “not“.
For example – if I say “don’t think of a purple striped zebra” – what pops into your mind? Is it a purple striped zebra, or a pink spotted elephant? Does it matter that I clearly said “don’t” at the start?
Not one bit.
I learnt how powerful this was when out walking with my 3 YO nephew. The ground was very muddy, so being cautious, I said “don’t slip”. Guess what? He couldn’t process the “don’t” either, so immediately slipped and covered himself in mud. D’oh!
Would You Rather be “Not Scared” or “Excited”?
My children absolutely adore the book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” – in fact in just 2 weeks I have read it to them so often that I can now tell the story from memory whenever I need to entertain them.
But the very first time I read it, I made a subtle change to the story. The line that stuck in my throat was this: “We’re not scared”. It’s repeated many times but I couldn’t resist reframing it. When my husband and I read the story, we say “We’re soooo excited”.
Does it change the story? Not really. But it will make a big difference to the images that my little audience holds in their minds as they listen.
What Pictures Are You Painting?
One of the best ways to find out where your images could be improved is to tape yourself speaking or presenting. You don’t need to video it, just record the audio version – using a simple digital voice recorder or your mobile phone.
Then listen back.
For each phrase or section, ask yourself this: “what picture am I painting in the mind of my audience?” If you use words that paint gloomy pictures – even if the phrase you utter is “it’s not all doom and gloom” – guess what they have in their minds? Is it happy, smiling faces in sunny weather? Is it heck!
One of my favourite re-wordings is in changing the word “work” into “paid play”. It changes my whole attitude and how I get out of bed in the morning. What are yours?
I love my job – I get to spend time with amazing people, discovering their genius and helping them shine. And watching people grow and start to own how brilliant they are is a joy to watch.
David is undoubtedly brilliant, but when I first met him his answer to the question “What do you do?” was “I bust any beliefs holding you back to help you unlock your true potential”. You can imagine my response to that!
Now David sparkles! But don’t take my word for it, watch this short video David created (because it was fun!)
So let me introduce you to David Taylor of The Freedom Factory. He has a Cinderella story of his own.
Get Your Clients Telling Their Cinderella Story
Every single client you work with is a new story for your collection. Make sure you ask the right question so you can capture (in their own words) these two elements to their Cinderella story:
1) The Rags Beginning – the pain that made them hire you
2) The Happy-Ever After Ending – how their life is different now they’ve worked with you
Because it is the contrast that creates the WOW factor. Get these two elements in your testimonials and have more WOW than ever before!