Modern day storytelling / What can we learn from Ken Block?

Hello world,

Advertising and creativity are in constant stage of evolution. Solving issues or pure entertainment, they are at the core of pop culture creation. today i want to take a look at Ken Block. A modern day daredevil who took ownership of his brand and has championed his own way of creating buzz over content.

This video had 3.9 millions views in four days. Is it a commercial? Not really because it doesn’t fall under standard format. Is it a movie? Not quite i don’t think it has a script. Think of it as a stunt demo reel. But why is it so successful? More importantly what can we learn from it for our brands.

Quite honestly this video’s success is the result of bigger and better stunts. With each volumes Block, has been pushing his skills to deliver incredibly well choreographed stunts. Kudos to him. The format he chose does a great job of maintaining attention for a full 9 minutes. Trust me, in a world where college kids shuffle between 25 active screens during lectures, that’s a feat. Here’s 3 things we can learn from his strategy.

1 – Engage the brain: The video is going through several sets. Each totally different and independent from each other. It keeps the mind guessing about what’s coming next. The result, you’re glued to your monitor because you don’t want to miss a split second. Because that’s all it takes to miss something exciting or conversation worthy.

Several brands already understand that, Direct Tv, Old Spice, and Dairy Queen to name a few. If you notice their commercial are “hyper” active. Several sets, actors, and plenty of little gem hidden throughout the commercials. The little Giraffe or the Dogs playing poker in the hit “Opulence I has it” commercial from Direct Tv is a good example. It takes time to notice the little details, thus fueling conversation and buzz.

2 – Pop culture/Sub culture references: It’s important to understand and connect with your core fan base. That means knowing if there are Trekkies or Jedi in training. Marvel or DC. Knowing that will help you amplify you brand with unique cultural connectors that they will recognize and in return share with their circles.

Adidas did a good job with the Adidas Star War Collection commercial series. Connecting Star wars with current cultural influencers. They understood that it is important to feed their fan base with unique content and limited apparel that connects with their other interests. Volkswagen also did good use of “the force” to show what type of parents/family use their vehicle.

3 – Film is powerful: If anything, with this 4th installment, Block showed that Film is a powerful medium and it’s here to stay. And through film you can use a combination of visual cues to trigger messages. Note that this movie is not a commercial for Ford, Monster or DC Shoes. It’s a movie about all three and  how he made them work together. That is the key.

Short film or documentaries give brands the opportunity to do more. To showcase how fans and heavy users make use of the product. Nokia amplified his image using short films and documentaries showcasing this very fact. They created a product and celebrated their users creativity by giving them a venue to showcase their prowess. Dont’ be scared of user generated content, embrace it, nurture it and you will be rewarded.

This is a short list of what I think is important for modern day storytellers dealing with the millennial generation. It’s not complete yet, but it’s a start. Let’s complete the list and share it with other storytellers.



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