“What’s transmedia storytelling?” you may ask, and I’m sure you’re not alone. I hadn’t heard of it until recently, when I discovered Omar Kattan’s blog, “Brand Stories: New Age Brand Building.” As he explains, “Transmedia storytelling is the technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using digital technology.”
But transmedia storytelling isn’t simply telling the same story via different media; it’s telling different elements of a story to various audiences, with details tailored to each audience’s preferences and interests. In a sense, the technique represents a full-fledged communications program with the key message tailored to each audience through multiple formats. And it’s a dynamic process. It invites–and depends on–audience interaction and feedback.
Chipotle’s “The Scarecrow” ad campaign is one example, which Kattan discussed in an earlier post. It won this year’s award for a story-based ad campaign at the Cannes International Film Festival. “The Scarecrow” tells the tale of the hero going to work in a dark, depressing factory owned and operated by a scarecrow’s primary nemesis, a crow. After struggling with the conflict of values and the devaluation of his contribution by an unappreciative employer, the scarecrow overcomes the challenge of his demoralizing grind by transforming himself–and his entire life. Following his heart’s desire to work in the light, fresh outdoors, he quits his job and becomes a farmer. He grows sustainable crops (illustrated by a Chipotle chili and burrito basket), a product he’s proud to take to market.
After releasing the video, which became viral, Chipotle created a game app that educates its audience about industrialized farming. Then, to encourage support for sustainable crops, the app invites viewers to “help the Scarecrow rescue the City of Plenty from Crow Foods.” In essence, as Kattan says, the ad serves as “a mini trailer for the game app.”
It will be fun to see how other advertisers extend their brands by customizing the key messages to different audiences through a variety of technologies. How about you? How can your company convey its corporate culture and values, gain stakeholder support, and better reach its customers with transmedia storytelling?