How to Incorporate Pixar’s Storytelling Rules into Your Creatives

By Celtra

pixar storytelling creative ads

Marketers are anxiously awaiting for 2020 trends to play out. Rather than focusing exclusively on this upcoming year, you should be asking which digital creative trends will define the decade. Although we’re barely into the new year, it seems that the next big thing will likely be more than technological advances. It might simply be a restoration of creativity. After all, creativity and brand size are the 2 biggest determinants of effectiveness

Several years ago, Pixar, a company undeniably masterful at this skill, released a list of 22 rules of storytelling to Twitter. These principles have become a strong influence on all types of storytellers. Here are the biggest 5 nuggets of wisdom for your ad campaigns. 

1. Appeal often comes from simplicity

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

Domino’s has plenty of creative content. Without even spending a dime, Domino’s managed to make itself synonymous with the pizza emoji (?). By writing a tweet with the pizza, consumers could put in their Domino’s order. This was a brilliant tactic on several levels. It made purchasing their item as easy as possible, assigned their brand to an already popular image, and left a lasting association with that image.

To back up the benefits here, consider the fact that 64% of shoppers desire simplicity in the purchase process and 61% say that quickly finding what they want and like is a key element of a positive shopping experience. The takeaway? When in doubt — keep it simple, stupid. 

2. Challenge yourself 

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

Hinge’s current positioning as the dating app that’s “designed to be deleted deleted,” breaks a traditional ad value: keep your product in demand. By violating this rule, Hinge emerges as a more honest, benevolent dating service that’s to be trusted. Not to mention, Hinge simultaneously positions itself in a more specific market. Hinge is marketed as the “anti-Tinder,” who, funny enough, is also owned by its parent company Match Group. As a result, Match Group can reach both types of dating markets. 

3. Reveal the values behind your service and / or product 

#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

Nike bumped its proactive ethos to the next level with its “Believe in Something” ad. Many brands choose to highlight their values through creatives. Yet, few have taken as divisive and brazen of a stance as Nike. Tapping into a very timely topic, Nike celebrated the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” campaign with a declaration of support for Colin Kaepernick and other athletes who had protested police violence against black Americans by taking a knee during the national anthem. 

The ad spurred reactions from both sides of the issue. Ultimately though, and despite any negative press, Nike’s CEO claims this added a remarkable $6 billion to its valuation. Moral of the story? Brands strong in their convictions are sure to rock the boat (and we mean that in a good way). 

4. Actions should be relatable and specific 

#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?

In this ad, Clorox doesn’t just clean the bathroom, it creates an environment for the family to comfortably go about their business. A shared bathroom space is something most of us have experienced at some point or another. Even those that haven’t will spend a decent amount of time in that room. And it showcases the importance of  creating a better space that can be appreciated on an everyday basis, for big or small activities. Plus, since 41.8% of Americans listed cleaning the toilet as the least desirable household task, making it look easy, and reminding viewers of why we do this treacherous chore, is the right way to position the product.

5. There are more ways to tell a story

#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

Rethink the concept of “economical telling.” In fact, reevaluate your options of delivery entirely. Creating an innovative and interactive way of delivering your message makes a memorable impact. The Casper ad below, and several variations of it, uses their OOH advertising in a very clever way across subways in New York City. This ad campaign entertained, sparked conversation, held the attention of its audience, and, perhaps most significantly, presented an innovative method of getting their message across. Additionally, using a puzzle has science-backed benefits. To name a few it can help improve memory and stimulate dopamine (a happy brain chemical). 

Coming up with a creative idea that will move your audience isn’t a simple task. If you remember that the main objective is to tell a story, and follow those conventions accordingly, it can help you ideate something powerful. Ultimately, any brand can target and use data to distribute their message, the way to stand out this year will be through your creative capacity.


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