Smart brands on the world’s most super advertising stage know that powerful storytelling outperforms stupid spots every time.

I have held storytelling workshops around the country showing people how to use these proven nine steps – in this order – to standout, engage audiences, and ignite movements. Audi’s “Prom” spot is a perfect example. Here’s the blow-by-blow breakdown using an abbreviated, but universal, Hero’s Journey story structure by Joseph Campbell to show you how great storytelling connects with us on our most primal levels.

Open on Our Hero in his Ordinary World

Say hello to our hero

Say hello to our hero

The story opens as we are introduced to an awkward high school young man preparing himself for the big night. You can feel the social angst and see it in his eyes: we’ve all been there.

What’s at stake for our hero?

Like all teenagers, he just wants to fit in.

Like all teenagers, he just wants to fit in.

We learn that he is going to the dance alone, but his demeanor suggests that he’d rather have a date. His sister underscores his self-imposed social alienation with a biting comment.

The Call to Adventure

His transformation begins.

His transformation begins.

The inciting incident that propels this story forward is when the dad tosses the keys to his Audi to our your hero: a metaphor for passing along trust and propelling him through the threshold from his ordinary world into his new extraordinary world of manhood. Very primal stuff.

Villains, Fog and Crevasses

Setting out into his new world to concur his demons.

Setting out into his new world to concur his demons.

His transformation begins as the Audi winks to life in the garage. Our hero’s mojo swells with every gliding turn on his journey to the dance. He challenges authority by parking in the principal’s spot, musters the courage to walk down a lonely hall and into the dragon’s den: a packed gym thumping to music. He is confronting his internal demons of self doubt and insecurity with every step.

Enter the Mentor

His character is definitely arching.

His character is definitely arching.

Audi has mentored and emboldened our hero. His prize awaits in the prom queen. Brimming with new-found machismo ignited by his side kick – the Audi – he makes his move and plants one on her. The music quiets for effect and you hear a primal “Yowzer” from some dude off screen who wishes he had the guts to be our hero. A brilliant nuance.

The Road of Trials

Every great hero is tested to reveal his inner strength.

Every great hero is tested to reveal his inner strength.

But it gets worse for our hero before it gets better. Say hello to our self-absorbed prom king who catches the lip lock and intervenes. We know exactly what happens next. Pow!

Victory is at Hand!

The basal thrill of victory: overcoming your fears.

The basal thrill of victory: overcoming your fears.

We’re now back in the Audi heading for home with our hero sporting a shiner. Quick cut back to the surprised and intrigued class hottie, and then back to our hero with a whoop that’d make Braveheart flinch.

The Moral of the Story

All great brands, like every epic story, have a moral.

All great brands, like every epic story, have a moral.

Audi lays out the moral of its story: Bravery. It’s what defines us. It is a universal truism that they attach to their brand to separate it from the commoditized auto industry. It resonates with us because we know the basic premise is true.

To Be Continued…

To be continued, with you...

To be continued, with you…

Audi welcomes you to become part of its story with their logo and tagline: “Truth in Engineering.” They even invite you into their story online with the hashtag: #BraveryWins

And that, my friends, is how expert marketers use the primal structure of storytelling to win your affection. Now that you know how it works, watch the spot.

Pay particular attention to the nuances of the characters, the editing and sound design that effortlessly propel the narrative forward. Everything is considered and nothing is wasted. Then let me know if the spot works for you.

Tell your stories in this order and you can’t lose.

 

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