We instantly loved 'Tell Us Your Story' when we came across it on Twitter - it's an impressive and passionate rage against a trend we have seen emerge over the last few years...the tell us your story campaign. We grabbed the creator, Brian Eden who is a Copywriter in New York.
Why did you set up 'Tell Us Your Story'?
I started the blog last year after noticing that every brand suddenly wanted to hear my stories. The cat food wanted to hear my cat food story. The bleach wanted to hear my bleach story. The disinfectant wipes wanted to hear my disinfectant wipe story. The more I started paying attention to it, the more I started to see the humor and absurdity in these requests. Because, when’s the last time you heard a good disinfectant wipe story?
What is the problem here?
As long as there’s been advertising, there have been trendy executions. From side-by-side taste tests, to “your family will love you for giving them [insert product here]” to jingles and flash mobs. It seems the newest advertising trend is that brands want us to tell them our stories. But most products - especially the more ordinary ones - don’t lend themselves to being the centrepieces of especially compelling stories.
Why do you think brands do this?
It’s easy to see the appeal of “Tell us your story” for a company, because it seems like a good way to create social media content, generate conversation with customers, and collect a bunch of testimonials all in one. And for some types of businesses, that might actually work out. Travel, sports, hospitals, charitable causes - people actually do have stories to tell about these kinds of things, so it’s not as strange of a request coming from a brand like that.
Where it starts to get funny is when the more mundane, everyday kinds of products ask us for our stories. Kitty litter. Iced tea. Nose spray. They’re funny because they’re so socially awkward. Who actually has a nose spray story?
What do you wish brands would do? How can they be better?
There are a lot of companies that are using social media really well - Oreo, GoPro, Old Spice and Honey Maid to name a few. Social media offers brands big opportunities to do great work. But the work has to be rewarding for the customers. The more time and energy you’re asking people to give you, the more worthwhile it has to be for them to give it. The work can’t be totally self-serving (at least not overtly).