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The Power of Audience-Inspired Storytelling to Ignite Conversation


AMP Agency's Jen Herbert and James Hough on working with The Ad Council and She Can STEM

The Power of Audience-Inspired Storytelling to Ignite Conversation

Recently, our agency was given the opportunity to participate in the 2019 iteration of YouTube's South by Southwest (SXSW) Creative Agency Challenge. Working with The Ad Council and She Can STEM, the goal was to use insights-based, creative storytelling to empower parents to encourage their daughter’s interest in STEM.

When the year’s theme was announced as 'Signals and Storytelling' we realised this was an opportunity to push boundaries and leverage audience insights. With the goal of looking beyond audience demographics, our team was looking to think meaningfully about consumers’ interests and intent signals.

During the challenge kick-off at YouTube NYC, there was a discussion about how it’s no longer acceptable to fill the target audience section of a creative brief with simple, demographic information. Google’s example that stuck with our team, is that by writing a demographic-led brief - like aged 65+, British, high net worth, dog lover - we would be unknowingly targeting both Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne!

Most marketing agencies would agree that it can be challenging for the strategy team to continually build briefs that present a unique POV and inspire the creative team; on the other hand, it can sometimes be a puzzle for creative to generate ideas that are both breakthrough in the marketplace and guaranteed to resonate with our audiences.

Our creative team viewed this opportunity as a chance to see how we stacked up against other up-and-coming and established advertising agencies and marketing agencies. We felt empowered to ensure our storytelling was on point.

In addition, this year’s challenge looked to harness the participating agencies’ efforts towards a greater good. With YouTube partnered with the Ad Council, we were asked to create two pieces of skippable YouTube video content for She Can STEM.  Through their work with Google, they discovered that bargain hunter parents and technophile parents showed strong affinity for the cause.

What came as the biggest surprise was that bargain hunter parents like watching quirky videos featuring silly experimentation around the house, such as 'Making Slime' and the 'Cheese Ball Bath Challenge'. To resonate, we wanted to recognise their lives are full of creative, scrappy, playful discovery, and how that could translate to a career in STEM.  

For technophile parents, we saw that they are often shopping for gaming systems, but also interested in sports, TV shows, movies and news articles. So, to cater our messaging to them, we wanted to acknowledge their lives as multi-dimensional and well-rounded.

After sharing their initial thoughts with Google, four concepts and eight scripts were presented to the Ad Council. The Ad Council chose a direction the team storyboarded, found a director (Max Esposito), found locations, cast and shot – all within about a week. 

The financial and time constraints coupled with the freedom to go out and create without check-ins made for something special.

While each of the spots are aimed at a different audience, they shared the same goal. In these stories, there are relatable and tangible ways a parent can encourage their daughter at the right time to keep going. Instead of pushing future-focused images of a marine biology or coding career, the spots focused on the seemingly minor moments of everyday life that could have a big impact on a girl’s interest, like a trip to the aquarium with mom or the gift of a tablet from dad.

Basic empowerment and 'you’re a badass' messaging wouldn’t cut it. We needed to tell parents they have a job to do – keeping their daughters interested in STEM through the 11 to 14 year-old drop off point. More simply, 'She can STEM'.

The results of our collaboration were strong, outperforming YouTube benchmarks and our work was recognised as one of the top-performing campaigns. It was humbling and a privilege to create audience-inspired storytelling that ignited a conversation around young girls’ future passion for STEM, and provoke action in an impactful way. 

Jen Herbert is senior strategist at AMP Agency

James Hough is creative director at AMP Agency

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Genres: Storytelling, People, Dialogue

Categories: Media and Entertainment, Online Media

Marketing Matters, Thu, 13 Jun 2019 12:42:02 GMT