Everyone's a f**king storyteller.
It's the latest fad for agencies to call themselves storytellers.
This is blatantly untrue.
They write anecdotes (or film real life in the hope of getting some 'magic').
They rarely tell stories.
After studying advanced storytelling for two years, I think one of my screenwriting tutors described it best when she said; "Well, of course, you can turn a scene, you're from advertising."
I took the withering insult because deep down we both knew I couldn't sustain a plot – not then anyway.
A very nice fellow on the course cheered me up, he was a highly experienced documentary director who was learning story so he could direct his first feature, "You know it's harder for us because we know what's really good and we know we can't quite do it yet."
Well, that's what his therapist told him, anyway.
But let's get real, claiming everyone’s a storyteller is like saying everyone can sing.
As I write this, I am being serenaded by some pretty painful notes coming from my daughter’s bedroom
And she knows how to do it!
Contrary to the X Factor myth, everyone may be able to sing, but to do it well takes hours and hours of practice and stretching your vocal chords to their excruciating limits.
As a kid, David Beckham would stay and kick a ball against a wall when all the other kids went home for tea. He’d pick a brick and shoot at it over, and over, and over again.
And that’s what us storytellers do, we kick story arcs against a wall again, and again, till we hit the sweet spot.
So it’s no surprise that we wince when we see stories written by creatives who think they can do it without even looking at the basics.
They say it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill.
That’s pretty much 8 hours a day, five days a week for 5 years.
When you’ve been practising for 30 years you know every crack in the wall and how to use them to your advantage.
But the ad world is filled with over-confident Jack-of-all-trades who think they can google the answer to everything.
Fortunately, the masters will continue to strive to hit the hardest to reach bricks and continue to score for the clients who leave the tricky shots to their star players.
You see, story is already complicated, and with all the new media channels available content has become an emotional experience shared by friends. Brands are now the protagonist on a journey to redemption usually hampered by a strong antagonist.
But how can your product be the hero against such odds when all you've got to kiss is frogs?