Friday, 27 May 2016

Responsible Storytelling

Storytelling is becoming more and more important for brand building and is being used to stroke consumer’s emotions for deeper relationship building. Who doesn’t like a story? We have all grown up listening to one and hence we can easily relate to them.

Recently, Nestle used a stammering stand-up comedian as a main protagonist for this storytelling, focusing on the idea that you can overcome all hurdles if you have a passion to win and succeed. 

The brave coffee brand took the risk of using ‘physical disability -‘stammering’ as a context for the advertisement. It if not handled well; this could have alienated the consumers from their old trusted brand. But the brand true to its nature handled this very sensitively and rather than using stammering as a negative attribute brought about the humour and emotion beautifully in the brand story. The film was made in a way that consumers did not feel alienated at any point but was empathic to protagonist all through. They were not sympathetic but displayed empathy, and that was the winning proposition for Nescafe. Nescafe has served its coffee strong to audience while embedding a social message without being too preachy. The brand was just playing a role in the story without being ‘on the face’. They were careful not to make fun of ‘stammering’ because such treatment would have created more negative emotions around the brand. People don’t want to be laughed at their disability. If nothing else, they wish to be left alone. But brand was brave enough to take up the issue and say that ‘we can fight every disability if we have the will to do so’.

On the other hand I am surprised at the way Intex mobile has handled the same disability. They have made a blatant spoof of it. For the purpose of adding some humour to the story, they have handled the context arrogantly. How could they even imagine that consumers would like the brand which makes ‘fun’ of them? And it’s not that all their consumers stammer consumers show solidarity when being talked by the brands and hence such treatment would only attract negative emotions. Was it tactical polarized communication to draw some attention and generate content on social media? Then it was all the more a failed attempt as it would only spread negative comments. Consumers do not appreciate spoof which rather than making them feel ‘good’ makes them feel ‘shameful’.


Media and communication influence the story and I feel that it’s very important for brands to behave responsibly while dealing with such issues. Brands should ‘communicate for a purpose of engaging with the consumers and not alienating the consumers’.

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