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Indonesia 2016 | Brand Building | The power of creative storytelling

Why happy families must make way for big ideas

Emma Mussell, Creative Development Partner, Millward Brown Indonesia

Indonesia is a unique advertising market, and Millward Brown’s Link™ data confirms that Indonesia has the lowest receptivity to ads from other countries in Southeast Asia. But this fact has led to a number of myths and stereotypes about what it takes to advertise successfully in this market.

Indonesia’s famous reputation as a collectivistic society, for instance, has meant that family-oriented ‘slice of life’ ads are common in Indonesia. ‘Slice of life’ ads account for more than half of all ads evaluated by Millward Brown through Link™. However, there is no evidence that ‘slice of life’ family settings deliver better advertising; whilst 56 percent of the most impactful advertising in Indonesia can be categorized as ‘slice of life’, we also find that 58 percent of the weakest ads share this trait.

It is easy to understand why brands may be tempted to default to this familiar style of advertising. But the quest for advertising relatability should not come at the expense of creativity or distinctiveness. In an increasingly competitive market, there is a risk that the safe path will lead to generic advertising that fails to showcase a brand as meaningfully different, leaving the business vulnerable to more creative competitors.

The key to success is to bring to life resonant and disruptive big ideas through well-told, imaginative storytelling. Storytelling is a powerful tool for marketers. Stories can capture an audience’s attention, build lasting memories, evoke an emotional reaction and help people to understand what makes a brand meaningful for them. This is certainly true in Indonesia, where storytelling has traditionally played a significant cultural role in entertainment and learning for the community.

Catching consumers’ attention
People love stories, and telling a good story is a great way to ensure that ads are noticed and remembered. The e-commerce platform OLX has brought to life its brand message of ‘upgrading Indonesia’ through a series of fun and relatable storylines, and these are now among the most watchable and memorable ads in Indonesia. One recent iteration of this campaign tells the story of an elderly father whose much-loved bike from his younger days has now fallen into disrepair. His loving son thoughtfully uses OLX to restore the parts and surprise his father. The ad comically closes with the father rediscovering his youth and performing stunts in the street.

Entertaining stories help brands maximize their marketing budgets with ads that people remember. In AdReaction, our annual study into advertising and media consumption, OLX ads were often cited as the digital videos people were least likely to skip, thanks to their entertaining storylines.

Powering emotions
Great stories can build brand meaning by showing how a brand is emotionally relevant to the consumer, as well as how it delivers functionally. A good story draws in the audience, making them invested in the outcome. As a result, good stories can trigger a much stronger emotional reaction than other forms of information sharing.

In Adira Finance’s 2015 ad, the story starts with a street vendor selling bread. Adira Finance helps him to acquire a motorcycle for his stall. This helps him to grow his business and the story concludes with him as the proud owner of a bakery. By taking the viewer on the baker’s journey to success, Adira Finance powerfully brings to life the human impact that consumer credit can have on its customers.

Making a memorable impression
There is some truth in the belief that the Indonesian market is information-seeking: of the most persuasive ads in the market, more than four-fifths explicitly visualize the product and consumption experience, compared with just two-thirds of the least persuasive ads. However, neuroscience techniques used in Link show us that long, information-heavy product windows lose viewers’ attention and do not necessarily result in stronger understanding.

When integrated into a creative story, information can be more easily digested and remembered. In dairy brand Dancow FortiGro’s 2015 campaign, the endearing story of a child pushing himself to make a glass of milk without mom’s support brought to life the idea of independence in a way that appealed to moms and kids alike. And the Dancow brand was central to those compelling scenes.

With such a focus on the role of technology in today’s marketing landscape, there is a danger that advertising is portrayed as more science than art. But in reality, the most valuable brands will continue to succeed with powerful big ideas, expressed through imaginative storytelling.