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The purpose behind the ads at Christmas is to ramp up your emotions so you buy your Christmas food and/or presents from the advertisers.

I’m sure there are actuaries out there who measure the timing and performance of ads on TV against subsequent sales. Actuaries were once defined as “People who found accountancy too exciting”.

Some ads are direct – buy this product and a fantastic Christmas price!

Some businesses just need to convey the brand.  After all no-one is going to buy a Mercedes-Benz as the result of seeing an ad on TV, but when they want to upgrade their car the following year, the Mercedes brand is embedded in their psyche.  Same goes for jewellery, watches and other big brand items.

I’ve looked at this years crop of ads which generally seem to be less of an emotional roller-coaster and more of a “buy me” with some tinsel and Christmas music in the background.

Sometimes there’s an ad that surpasses the others.  The year I give my vote to the ad from Amazon. There are no spoken words, just an emotionally captivating video that exemplifies all the essential elements of any live, written or recorded story.

We know immediately when and where it’s taking place (Christmas time – snowy hill – children having fun sledging – garlands on the fencing).  Importantly the audience feels it is participating rather than just observing.

The hero of the story (all stories have a hero) is the tall woman. We see her with two friends sitting on a bench, they’re passive and we feel a little sympathy (Beatles music infers long term friendship) This is the ‘before’ stage. Maybe, because the hero feels sorry for the other two, she gets an idea from what’s happening around her.

That’s the opportunity. The event to move things forward to the ‘after’.  She looks at her phone, a package arrived and the three of them turn back the clock experiencing the joy they once knew as children.

All in 60 seconds without the name Amazon appearing anywhere.

Although longer (3:40) the Sainsbury’s ad in 2014 conveyed a different emotion. It wasn’t designed so that you rushed out an bought a bar of chocolate, just felt an affinity with Sainsbury’s when it came to stocking up on food.

If you really want emotion watch some of the ads on Thai TV. Here’s a selection:

Make sure you have a box of tissues nearby

Graeme Dinnen

Even when telling your story live, include these details. Tell us about the snow, the sledders, and the Christmas decor. By creating a “movie” in their minds in this way, you allow us to  participate in the action subconsciously, rather than just observe it.
:02 [When an entire story takes place in just 60 seconds, the scenes and turning points will change very quickly.] We now see that the three people on the bench are all elderly women settling in for a while (they’re bundled up, drinking coffee, and one brought a newspaper). Then we see a close up of the tallest of the three, looking at her two companions, then smiling enigmatically towards the hill in front of her. 
You want to establish the hero of your story as soon as possible; show her living her everyday life before she begins pursuing her goal in the story; and create empathy with that character as soon as possible.
This woman is the first one singled out from the group, her height, appearance and demeanor make her seem more robust, that she’s sitting together silently and planning to be there a while implies that she’s friends with them, and while her friends watch the children sledding, this person is watching them. It’s easy to infer that she feels sorry for them.
This is all designed to create empathy with her, because of her likeability (caring about the other two), and because of whatever sympathy we might feel because of her (and her friends’) age.
One other element you want to introduce, however subtly, into the setup is a sense that your hero is stuck – in a state of inertia, usually tolerating a situation rather than taking action to change it. In this case, all three women are the picture of passivity as we see them observing all the sledding activity in front of them. (We’ll go deeper into this element in a couple days, when we look at the hero’s Inner Journey. .)
:12  Our hero looks at her friends as they watch the kids sledding, then gazes back into the distance.
This VERY quick moment serves as the OPPORTUNITY of the story. It’s the new event that will move the hero of the story to take action. 
We’re not immediately aware of the shift, but as a storyteller, you must know what crisis or tipping point moved your hero into a new situation that would transform him from passive to proactive.
This opportunity will always lead the hero to ask herself how she will respond to the new world she has entered. She will usually get help in the form of a guide or sidekick, and finally establish a clear goal that will lead to the finish line of the story.
In “Joy Ride” we discover that the hero had already experienced this. But as we watch this 4-second sequence, it’s presented as a surprise, to satisfy the emotional needs of an opportunity. 
As she looks at her phone and we get a very quick glimpse of a non-descript Amazon page, she is about to declare her goal and begin her PURSUIT – the next stage of the story. And that’s where we’ll pick things up in my next email.

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