SVN Member’s New Book Explores Winning the Story Wars
Values-based brands have a leg up in today’s media environment, says Jonah Sachs
Monday August 27, 2012 -- Camille Jensen
Free Range Studios co-founder Jonah Sachs understood early on the disruptive power the Internet would have on the broadcast era.
Seeing the trend as early as 1997 when he graduated from college, Sachs’ remembers realizing that big media would no longer be the only storyteller; through social technologies people would soon be able to share “their most favorite, passionate and inspirational ideas.”
It was a transition Sachs wanted to be part of.
“I committed myself right then and there to say ‘I want to be part of this wave, I want to figure out how we can take advantage of this cultural moment where people are going to be able to share their ideas and help figure out how to get ideas to really spread to change the world,’” recalls Sachs.
It’s been a 15-year journey for Sachs, whose most recent culmination is a book on the topic entitled Winning the Story Wars.
The book is a deep dive into what makes a good story. While Free Range, a creative design and storytelling agency, has created successful campaigns including “The Story of Stuff,” an examination of consumption that has 2.3 million views on YouTube, Sachs says much of the organization’s work has been based on intuition.
In preparation for the book, Sachs spent two years researching the underpinnings of story, delving into folklore, mythology, anthropology, neuroscience, even spirituality.
He found that storytelling cuts to the deepest core of human experience. “We basically are a species that are built to tell stories,” he says.
He also concludes that the stories that most resonated and worked throughout time, are stories about people connecting with their deeper values to respond to a higher calling in the world.
He points to some successful brands adopting this approach from Nike’s Just Do It to Dove’s Real Beauty campaign.
He cites US President Barack Obama’s Yes We Can 2008 campaign as another example of what Sachs calls empowerment marketing, which calls people to a deeper purpose as opposed to inadequacy marketing, which makes people feel incomplete in order to get them to buy things.
Sachs says as we continue returning to an oral-tradition culture enabled through social media tools, values-based organizations have a leg up, as their challenge isn’t finding or living their values, but rather how to communicate their compelling stories.
The book has revitalized Sachs’ and Free Range’s work, with major clients whose values led them to seek out the company as a strategic partner. For example, Free Range is working with Disney to help inspire kids to become global citizens, and Greenpeace to help detoxify major fashion brands.
Sachs adds that if more people were to apply lessons from Winning the Story Wars, it could result in a more engaged citizenry, and more hope.
“I’d love to see getting there and see how it would advance the causes we most urgently need to advance,” he says.
To learn more about Winning the Story Wars , click here.
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