Thursday, January 12, 2012

A compelling story (part 2)

What is a compelling story? A story that sparks interest, attention, or admiration. A story that is hard to refute (and this is key in videos made for organisations, companies, institutions who rely on credibility). A story that inspires you and makes you want to know more and do something - even if you end up doing nothing most of the times (sorry the cynical side of me just comes out like this, can't help it)!

It is easy to look at NGOs campaigns - at least some of them - and take them as the examples of compelling story-telling. Their preferred technique - and they might not like the military reference - is 'shock and awe': "Let's show things that will scare people, make them cry, make them feel angry with others and bad about themselves; then we will have them in our hands and they will be compelled into action".

Here is an example from, you've guessed it, Greenpeace (do I need to put a disclaimer for disturbing content here?):

Apart from the fact that it is quite disgusting, this video is pretty powerful no? Yes, it is. But I also find it simplistic (simple is good, simplistic isn't) and somewhat patronising: it is assuming that people simply do not understand and do not care, hence you need to force them to, by shocking them.

Now, look at this other Greepeace video. You will see that, yes, it had fewer views but it manages to tackle a difficult subject, with a fun idea. It tries to explain the issue and proposes solutions (whether you agree with them or not). Is this compelling? Well, in its own way, yes.

And there are ways of being powerful without being shocking: it is just that is requires a bit more thought.

Here is a video on biodiversity in cities that was produced for the European Commission (I will get into the Brussels scene and the 'beauties' coming out of the institutions in my next posts, as, after all, my main focus is still Europe...) and surprisingly (yes I said it, surprisingly) I find it a beautiful, moving, strong video. You might disagree and please feel free to do so. But for me this is a good example of a video with a compelling, if somewhat mysterious story, that's well told.

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