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  • Drury Bynum

COCKTAIL MANIFESTO: IS STORYTELLING DEAD?


Shine Creative puts brands in the context of human experience through video storytelling.

YES. STORYTELLING.

The marketing buzzword that has worn out its welcome like an extended stay from your in-laws—sucking up the oxygen long after there’s nothing to talk about. 'Storytelling' popped up a few years ago as an old but new way to fire up your marketing communications using ancient human wisdom that had been handed down for millennia. Storytelling brought cultures together and connected us to our ancestors. Storytelling carried the spark of civilization forward and made us who we are. Storytelling was the next Powerpoint.

People soon realized how difficult it really is to tell good stories, so rather than figuring out the recipe, they just diluted the potency. There was a lot of talk about the importance of storytelling without telling any stories.

The work it took to create good stories didn’t square with the need for fresh jargon and the term began to lose its luster.

So before I go and commit the same mistake, here's a little story for you:

We’d been shooting a video all day in Norfolk, VA and were looking for post-wrap drinks and dinner. Google found us a dark, woody pub with tile floors and a decent menu. I slid into a bar seat.

Me: I’d like a Manhattan, please.

Bartender: “Would you like to try our Norfolkhattan?”

Now, I wouldn’t call myself a cocktail connoisseur, but I am a competent drinker. And as far as drink recipes go, I like to stick to the classics; Martinis, Manhattans, Marys and the occasional Mule. The last 5-7 years of American bar culture have produced a booze renaissance. Some have restored the glory of the cocktail to that of the Jazz age, promising alcoholic adventures for all tastes with ingredients you’ve never heard of.

I appreciate the effort. Just don’t go messing with the classics. I learned this the hard way.

Me: What is the Norfolkhattan?

Bartender: It’s our take on the Manhattan.

Me: Sure I’ll try it.

I like the Manhattan because since my very first taste, it has made an impression on me. It takes me to that place. That moment of delicate wooing from work-mind to relaxed-mind. It's a truth repeated so often that I know when I go to order that drink again and again, I will get a whiff of that same experience each time and relive the moment of woo that is solid and familiar.

So when I was handed a $16 drink that tasted like bourbon and root beer, I sent it back— gently offending the bartender and infusing the air with a spritz of awkward.

Now, as harsh as that sounds to experimental bartenders everywhere, I think I have a good case for the classics. The Manhattan was created in the 1870's at the Manhattan Club at the behest of Winston Churchill’s Mother who was throwing a banquet for the presidential candidate, Samuel J. Tilden. That same recipe, born from necessity and sustained for over a century and a half, is my connection to a piece of history. If it was good enough for Lady Randolf, it’s good enough for me.

This glorious beast was made lovingly (and properly) by the author.

My point is: like classic cocktails are the glue to our enduring civilization, stories are threads in the fabric of humanity, binding us together and driving our culture. Neither are going anywhere soon, so let’s do the work to learn what makes them great and keep honing our craft.

So, while the industry is moving on to another buzzword, we’ll continue our mission of unpacking the mechanics of the storytelling medium to help our clients move stories forward (and keeping the root beer bitters out of our Manhattans, thank you).

Would like to know more about how video storytelling can create love and affinity for your brand? Contact us hello@shinecreative.tv

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