Dorothy and Glenda

In a recent article in the April 14 edition of Adweek, Gaston Legorburu writes about how in order to pass through consumer’s acceptance filters, brands must embrace the role of mentor.

Legorburu states that one of the biggest mistakes brands make in storytelling is to play the role of the hero themselves. While this may have worked in the past, consumers have gotten more sophisticated and now have higher expectations. Brands can no longer act as though they are the hero of the story – they need to be the one who helps the hero succeed.

Using a Wizard of Oz analogy, Legoburu casts the brand as Glenda the good witch helping Dorothy – the consumer – get to Oz. Successful brands act as the mentor and place the consumer directly in the middle of the story as the hero – thus getting the consumer to buy into what you are trying to sell and take ownership in the story.

A more modern day example is the Tough Mudder. The Tough Mudder is one of the premier mud running events in the world – a 10-12 mile obstacle course through mud, water, fire and electricity that advocates flock to from all over. Yes, one of the big reasons for their success is their fantastic courses, but the biggest reason is exactly what Legorburu is talking about – they make their consumers the heroes of the stories.

All of their marketing materials feature pictures of actual participants at previous Tough Mudder events. Sure, they use professional photographers, so the pictures look really good, but the subject of their pictures is always the strength their consumers tap into when participating in an event. And it works – Tough Mudder is one of the most popular mud events around.

Just take a look at some of the pictures Tough Mudder uses for their communications efforts. It’s clear who the hero of the story is – and it’s not Tough Mudder.

Tough Mudder 1

Tough Mudder 2

Tough Mudder 3

Tough Mudder 4

To read Legoburu’s article in whole, click here.

Posted in Blog.