Got a Good Story Ad?


John Lewis Ad - UK
Last week my post at Copyblogger, How to Write Weapons Grade Copy, focused on the power of stories to hold the attention of a customer. Here’s a heartwarming ad from the UK department store John Lewis that shows how even a rather long (1.5 minutes) ad can keep a viewer engaged:

This ad is also a great example of an emotional sales pitch – no products, no sale prices, just the nice warm feeling and, of course, a subtle reminder that Christmas is just around the corner. (Via Mandy Lehto of Bravura Coaching.)

One of my all-time favorite narrative ads (I featured it in my It Really DOES Pay to Schmooze post) is the decades-old United Airlines spot:

One of the key elements in traditional short story writing is the ending, which is usually a surprise or twist. Not all story ads incorporate that approach, although both of the above ads do.

What’s YOUR Favorite Story Ad?

So, do you have a favorite ad that hooks the viewer (or reader) with a compelling story? Share it with Neuromarketing readers by leaving a comment with a link!

  1. Drunkenmaster says

    I like this one:
    But all these story ads assume a high engagement of the customer which is often not the case, because the customers attention is somewhere else during a advertise break. In the John Lewis commerical there is no logo or brand which he or she can attach his or her emotions to. In the end they show the brand but what if the customer changes channel in between? The expensive commerical would have generated zero value on the customer.

    I very much like your blog. Thanks for the input.

  2. Roger Dooley says

    DM, that’s an excellent point. There’s some evidence that shows that once a viewer associates an ad with your brand, subsequent viewings (even if, say, fast forwarded) will enhance that association. In The Branded Mind, du Plessis describes a bank ad campaign that was so similar in appearance to a Gatorade commercial that the brand benefit accrued to Gatorade!

    I agree that the limited brand exposure in the first ad is a potential liability – those who tune the ad out or fast-forward it may never get the connection. The idea, of course, is that a good story is so engaging that viewers won’t skip it, at least the first time.

    I like the ad you suggested!


  3. Chris Johnson says is where we tell “stories”.

    We want to make stories that work where people dont’ get lost in th emetaphor.

  4. Phuong says

    I was suckered into feeling sorry for the lamp … Great ikea ad

  5. Roger Dooley says

    Me too, Phuong. I wonder if the “sorry for the lamp” feeling will cause some viewers to question Ikea’s disposable approach to home furnishings?


  6. Tomek Jablonski says

    Hey Roger,

    Check this one out. It’s an ad for an investment firm called Allan Gray.

  7. Roger Dooley says

    Good one, Tomek. I thought the setup was a bit long, but finish underscored the “long term thinking” point.


  8. Tomek Jablonski says

    Yes, I agree the setup took forever. The problem with all of these commercials is that if someone isn’t engaged right away then they might change the channel. How would you counteract that?

    1. Roger Dooley says

      Well, you’ve got to hook people from the first frame. Ever notice how every James Bond film starts with a phenomenal action sequence before it gets into the less than exciting story setup about whatever bad guy has a new plan for world domination? 🙂

  9. Tomek Jablonski says

    It’s funny that you mention that. Check this commercial out:
    This has James Bond written all over it.

    1. Roger Dooley says

      Wow, blatant ripoff of the James Bond film title sequences! Or, more charitably, a great homage to them.

  10. Tomek Jablonski says

    Haha but you know it’s awesome.
    I have a couple other commercials that I think you’ll like.

    Nike really knows what they’re doing. I used these as inspiration for a commercial I produced this summer. What do you think?

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