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 corona: on the Little Prince’s planet

We learned a lot during the months of quarantine and some of the most difficult moments in the fight against coronavirus.

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 contribute to the fight against the virus.

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

In my particular case, I learned that storytelling isn’t dead. Just the opposite, during these last few months, storytelling seemed to be “flourishing”.

In the post “Storytelling 3.0: the evolution of the art of storytelling”, I’ve already written about the point of view regarding which storytelling wasn’t dead.

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

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

But before all that, let’s see what have in common the Little Prince and every single person 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 was the Little Prince.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the main characters were the Great Princes and Princesses. In other words, the persons who were actively fighting against the virus, in the first place doctors and medical staff, were protagonists of the crisis in the best possible way.

On the other hand, each one of us who, day after day, stayed at home, worked remotely and avoided any social contact, started to have something in common with the Little Prince.

Just like the Little Prince, we took “refugee” to our small planets, 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. In the same way, the Little Prince was looking at the stars and enjoying their splendour.

The most fortunate ones were enjoying 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

Besides that, there are two aspects that we all, no matter how fortunate or hard-working we were (or were not), had in common.

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

Speaking of the second aspect, it’s 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.

Those commercials were an excellent example of the 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 those brands who realised how scared, lonely, and eager for the support he was.

So, they decided to send him —or us— a message of understanding, encouragement, and hope.

How did they manage to do it?

They managed it with the help of commercials whose goal was reaching our hearts and showing us the human face of companies.

Ten commercials that illustrate the storytelling in the time of coronavirus

Several aspects are common to all the stories that the world-famous brands were telling us during the crisis caused by the spread of coronavirus.

  • 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 deal with either yesterday or tomorrow. Storytelling in the time of coronavirus spotted the word “today”.
  • In the end, each of the stories carried a straightforward, yet optimistic and packed-with-emotions message.

Now, let’s see ten stories that some of the most famous brands worldwide —and one Serbian— were telling us, the audience, during the quarantine period.

Coca-Cola | To 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

As shown above, storytelling isn’t dead.

Just the opposite, many worldwide-famous brands have shown in recent months that the art of storytelling is liver than ever.

However, it’s not the coronavirus who contributed to this situation.

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

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

In other words, as long as the Little Prince had to remain locked down on his tiny planet, the brands were offering him, metaphorically speaking, a sheep drawn on a piece of paper.

They were trying to get the message out to us that we were not alone.

It goes without saying that it was entirely up to us to decide whether to crumble and throw that piece of paper or do something else with it.

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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