It’s one of the most clichéd words today – storytelling.  Stories can no longer be about just your product. People need to know your story.

You’ve heard this before. But you probably have also heard:

We need a video that tells the story of our dynamic company, our loyal customer base, our dedicated employees, our disruptive new VR platform, our game changing cloud-based solutions, our intuitive mobile enterprise apps, our flawless wireless network, our powerful diagnostic software, our kick ass micro fitness wearables...

and make it REAL!”

So why do most attempts at storytelling suck?

In many cases, slickness has replaced heart.  You shoot in 6K 360 with 5 drones, lock your After Effects artist in an edit suite for 7 straight days and have a fabulous driving score.  But the end result may still just be cotton candy.

Forget the psychological studies, explanation of the Narrative Paradigm, or snappy quotes from marketing consultants.

I can only share what I’ve learned from designing and directing “stories” for clients like Apple, GM, Philips, GE, Cisco, Intel, Lucasfilm and Disney.

Technique is important, but the key is finding the real humanity within each story. That goes for both dramatic and real case studies.

Here are four questions I ask myself while developing a project.

1.  Does the story reveal something personal (however briefly) from the lives of the characters that I connect with? A little bit can go a long way in humanizing the story. 

2.  Can I visualize myself in that situation?  If not, is there something within the story that feels genuine? Do I care about the people?

3.  Does the story reflect specific core values (one may be enough) of the company, while remaining in the background of the narrative.

4.  Is the script too packed with product info? Unlike what you learned in Journalism 101, its better here to “bury the lead”. The product/service should always be the punctuation to the story.

5.  Like the warm emotional response when hearing a minor musical chord, do I involuntarily respondpositively from watching this story? And more importantly, does that response motivate me to learn more

There is no magic bullet to achieve these results. It’s pre-scripting research. It’s cinematic craft. And although I hate to admit it, it’s always a bit of luck.


For Philips, we were tasked with telling the story of an elderly woman using home health monitoring devices that enabled her to remain at home. As it turned out, the story was actually more about the powerful bond between her and her daughter. Their relationship completely reinforced Philips position as a major player in the home healthcare marketplace. View Here: https://vimeo.com/126828468

For Quest Diagnostics, we designed a campaign to encourage boomers to get tested for Hep C. This story turned very personal, as the subject reflected back on her life choices and how/why she was motivated to get tested and “save her own life”. View Here : https://vimeo.com/144384068