Once Upon a Time

[excerpt from upcoming book, not yet titled]

Let’s face it. We live for stories. It sounds like a grandiose claim, I know, but consider these mind-blowing facts: Just under 50,000 fiction books are published in the United States in 2010.  About 12.5 million people attended Broadway shows last year.  According to the MPAA, 1.28 billion films were watched in theaters in the U.S. and Canada last year.  Let’s think about that number for a moment. If the average movie lasts about 2 hours and if you stretched the time spent watching movies back into the past, it would reach back 292,000 years. That’s when Homo Erectus walked the earth. I guess that tells us that man first stood upright to reach the concession stand. The average American watches 4.72 hours of television a day4. They are watching fiction, reality shows and news. While not all shows are fiction they all seek to tell a compelling story.

That’s only the new stuff. On a lazy Sunday afternoon you find me laying on the couch watching old episodes of Law and Order. Every July 4th a Twilight Zone marathon graces the airwaves and, as if that wasn’t enough, there are multiple channels that exclusively or primarily air repeats from the “Golden Years” of television. Every year, successful novels find their way to the film releases. These are stories that are successful in one medium, migrating to another to find an even larger audience. None of these numbers take into account all the stories, scripts and productions that never even see the light of day. It is amazing to me the hours we spend telling and consuming stories.

But the question is, then why are brand marketers so bad a telling stories. I think because they approach it like someone talking about their family vacation. Sure, you're passionate about it and it means a lot to you but I wasn't there and I'm just waiting for you to shut up so I can talk. When we start to care about the listener (our consumer) then we might create great stories.

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