STRATEGY – PARTNER
Character before plot makes good strategic success.
If you listen to showrunners like Vince Gilligan [Breaking Bad], Lena Dunham [Girls] or Mike Judge [Silicon Valley] talk to their fans you’ll hear something interesting. The fan/interviewer always wants to ask about plot. When did you know this would happen? Did you always know x was going to happen to y? The showrunner wants to talk character. They are most comfortable explaining who the characters were meant to be, and how that lead them to the plot points everyone is so excited about.
Try it. Go to a podcast where the creator of your favourite show is being interviewed by a fan of the show, and you’ll hear the same dynamic.
Great shows keep us coming back week after week because we care about the characters and the world they live in. Isn’t that what we want most brands to be like? Something you want to return to again and again because you relate to it? Mainstream brands should be a bit like a successful sitcoms: characters people like enough to come back to each week.
In advertising we often talk plot before character. We want the logical, factual arguments lined up. Those things are important, but they’re much more powerful coming from a character with tone and personality that people engage with. Character is, in the end, more powerful than plot. It keeps people coming back for more. We should all find the right character for every brand we work on. It’s the thing that will make people care about your plot.