Coronavirus has taught us many lessons. One of them is that storytelling isn’t dead. Find out how marketing stories survived the pandemic and discover storytelling in the time of coronavirus.

Storytelling in the time of coronavirus: on the Little Prince’s planet

We learned many valuable lessons during the quarantine period.

For instance, we’ve seen that the planet recovers due to the “retreat” of humans.

We’ve also become aware of the fact that there’s no unconditional freedom (the freedom of movement is non-exception).

In the end, we’ve understood that, by protecting ourselves, we protect others, whereas by staying at home, we actually fight against the virus.

Nevertheless, these three lessons aren’t the only ones that we’ve learned by now.

As for myself, I learned that storytelling isn’t dead.

Just the opposite, during these last few months, storytelling has been “flourishing”.

In the post “Storytelling 3.0: the evolution of the art of storytelling”, I wrote about storytelling not being dead.

In this post, I’ll write about the way in which coronavirus helped storytelling to (re)gain importance in the marketing and advertising field.

Moreover, I’ll provide ten commercials that illustrate the potential and scope of storytelling in times of crisis.

But before that, let’s see what the Little Prince has in common with all of us who experienced the quarantine during these last months.

Storytelling as Toto | The Marketing of Oz

As you read this post, you might start looking for the Marketing of Oz. If so, Toto from the film “The Wizard of Oz” will be accompanying you during the search to help you find it. Discover what the Marketing of Oz is and read all the posts that belong to the category “Storytelling”.

What do we have in common with the Little Prince?

In the famous tale, written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the main character is the Little Prince.

However, during the coronavirus pandemic, the “main characters” were the Great Princes and Princesses.

By the Great Princes and Princesses, I mean doctors and medical staff who have been actively fighting against the virus day and night.

On the other hand, each one of us who was, day after day, staying at home, working remotely, and avoiding any social contact, started to feel like the Little Prince.

Namely, we found a safe port in our tiny planets, in our flats that were “rotating” in the cold universe of isolation, disinfection, and quarantine.

Every single night, we were looking at the lights on in the flats of our neighbours, just like the Little Prince was looking at the stars and enjoying their splendour.

The most fortunate ones were watering their rose, while the most hard-working ones were regularly cleaning volcanoes on their little planets.

The Little Prince fears coronavirus, so do we

There are two more aspects that all of us, no matter how fortunate or hard-working we were (or were not), had in common with the Little Prince.

  • The first aspect is that we all were in fear of the coronavirus, just like the Little Prince feared the baobabs.
  • And the second one, we all were spending los of time in front of our computers, mobiles devices, and TVs.

Speaking of the second aspect, it’s pretty clear that, due to the situation, we became more exposed to a significant number of commercials and ads.

However, unlike the situation before the quarantine, most of the commercials that reached our little planets were filled with stories.

Therefore, those commercials represent an excellent example of storytelling in the time of coronavirus.

That’s why I decided to modify the title of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel “Love in the Time of Cholera” to “Storytelling in the Time of Corona(virus)”.

Storytelling in the time of coronavirus

The Little Prince seems to have become an ideal audience for all the brands who realised how scared, lonely, and eager for the support he was.

Therefore, they decided to send him —or us— messages of understanding, encouragement, and hope.

How did they do that?

They did it through commercials whose goal was to reach our hearts and show us the human face of companies.

Ten commercials that illustrate the storytelling in the time of coronavirus

Speaking of the stories that the world-famous brands were narrating during the crisis caused by the spread of coronavirus, we should mention the following four characteristics:

  • In the majority of the commercials, the main character was the Little Prince. The commercials didn’t celebrate only doctors, but also all of us who stayed at home and tried to make the time spent in quarantine both meaningful and purposeful.
  • None of them aimed at increasing sales (at least not in a direct way). The main aim was to show understanding, express gratitude and empathy, and provide support.
  • All the commercials talked about the present. During the crisis, storytelling didn’t focus either on yesterday or tomorrow. Storytelling in the time of coronavirus spotted the word “today”.
  • In the end, each story carried a straightforward and easy-to-understand, yet optimistic and packed-with-emotions message.

Now, let’s go through ten stories that some of the most famous brands —and one Serbian— were narrating during the quarantine period.

Coca-Cola | For The Human Race

Coca-Cola and storytelling in the time of coronavirus

Message: Thank you for filling the glass with kindness and hope.

Uber | Thank You For Not Riding

Uber, coronavirus and storytelling

Message: Stay home for everyone who can’t. Thank you for not riding with Uber.

Apple | Creativity Goes On

Apple and storytelling in the time of coronavirus

Message: Creativity goes on.

IBM | Today isn’t a restart. It’s a rethink.

IBM, coronavirus and storytelling

Message: Today we are rethinking how the business moves forward, how the world moves forward. So let’s get to it. Let’s put smart to work.

Pfizer | Join Us In Saying Thank You

Pfizer and storytelling in the time of coronavirus

Message: Thank you for being our light.

Nissan | Ode To Empty Roads

Nissan, coronavirus and storytelling

Message: Stay home, stay safe.

BMW | The Curve Up Ahead: Flatten the Curve with BMW

BMW and storytelling in the time of coronavirus

Message: Today we drive forward without driving at all.

Hyundai | Humanity Prevails

Hyundai, coronavirus and storytelling

Message: We will not stop until this is over.

Audi | We’re In This Together

Audi and storytelling in the time of coronavirus

Message: Keep distance, stay together.

Bambi Plazma | Velika dela nastaju kod kuće

Bambi Plazma, coronavirus and storytelling

Message: Velika dela nastaju kod kuće. (Great gestures are made at home.)

Storytelling and coronavirus: a sheep on a piece of paper

After having seen these ten commercials, it’s easy to conclude that storytelling isn’t dead.

Just the opposite, in recent months, many worldwide-famous brands have shown that the art of storytelling is as live as always.

However, it’s not the coronavirus that contributed to storytelling being live.

Our emotions, both positive and negative, represent the factor that made the commercials at the time of coronavirus become storytelling-friendly.

Namely, stories easily reach our emotions and, by connecting with them, we don’t feel alone anymore.

In other words, as long as we had to remain locked down on our little planets, the brands were giving us, just like in the tale The Little Prince, a sheep on a piece of paper.

They were trying to get the message out to us that we were not alone and that storytelling isn’t dead.

A Writing-Friendly Question: Is there any other commercial that caught your attention as an example of storytelling in the time of coronavirus?

My name is Stasa Durdic, and I work as a content writer and copywriter. For me, the drawing in the tale “The Little Prince” has always represented an elephant eaten by a snake. If you would like to know more about me, please read my story or visit my LinkedIn profile. On the other hand, in case you want to get in touch with me, I’ll be happy to offer you my help with content writing.

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Categories: Storytelling


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