Identity, Funny Adverts and Prize-winning Visualisations
Ten stories that have given us creative inspiration this week
Just a quick one from us this week. As part of our Scroll Stoppers research, we heard a lot of people saying that when they work from home they miss the creative conversations that take place in the office. We hear this a lot from our network of freelancers too. If you need some creative inspiration, join us for Proper Fancy on Thursday 25 May at 1 pm (BST). It's like a team show-and-tell for people who don't have a team.
OK. Have the most wonderful of weekends and see you all back here next Friday. Go on! Have fun!
Formats Unpacked: Lofi Girl (7 min read)
The Platform Era is Dead. Long Live the Homepage (5 min read)
Mona Chalabi’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Data Visualisation (Thread)
5 Takeaways From Ben Smith’s Book, Traffic (4 min read)
Generation Connie: Why Are There So Many Asian American Women Called Connie (10 min read)
Notes From Prince Harry’s Ghostwriter (25 min read)
Brands & Humour: Quiet Please (4 min read)
Nissan’s 4-Hour Advert (4 hours)
How to Turn Your Ads Into Entertainment (3 min read)
Introducing Total Crap, the First Magazine Written Entirely By AI (McSweeney’s) (2 min read)
How can we help you?
Storythings is a strategy and production company based in Brighton, London, Bristol, Berlin, and Ibiza. We'd love to help you with some creative and bold ideas. Here are 3 reasons to get in touch.
1. Audience Strategy - Do you struggle to understand constantly changing audience behaviours, and what strategies you need to reach them?
2. Content Format Development - Do you want to develop and test content formats that give you a direct relationship with your audience? (e.g. newsletters, podcasts, publications, or video series).
3. Production - Do you need help creating and running an existing or new content format, and growing loyal audiences around them?
We do other things too. We're very friendly and always enjoy meeting people, so get in touch.
Formats Unpacked: Lofi Girl
I was fascinated when I came across the ‘Study With Me’ trend a couple of years ago. Imagine telling a TV commissioner 25 years ago that you had an idea for a show that was a simple looped animation of a girl sitting at a desk listening to the radio. “How many views do you think that will get?” they’d ask incredulously. Well, Lofi Girl has over 1.6 billion streams. Find out how she managed to get an audience that keeps coming back.
(7 min read)
The Platform Era is Dead. Long Live the Homepage
A good read on the return of the homepage, how over-dependence on social platforms weakened brands and what brands need to do in a post-platform world: “In many respects, this is what media looked like before the platforms. It was slower growing. You built your brand. It was niche. You focused on a specific topic. Your sellers knew the material. Your audience development team knew the material. And who the reader was mattered. I don’t intend for this to sound nostalgic (I’m not old enough to have operated in that era). But it certainly sounds better than platforms controlling who reads my content.”
(5 min read)
Mona Chalabi’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Data Visualisation
This week, the wonderful Mona Chalabi won a Pulitzer Prize for her work that compared US household wealth with Jeff Bezos. Like all her work, the hand-drawn images really help to turn unimaginable numbers into human stories that can be understood with the briefest of glances. This is data storytelling at its finest!
5 Takeaways From Ben Smith’s Book, Traffic
I’m currently enjoying Ben Smith’s Traffic. It tells the story of the rise and fall of the social platform age in media through the lens of sites like Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and Gawker Media. For evidence of the point made about identity being at the heart of traffic, go read this week’s Formats Unpacked, linked above. And if you’re the kind of person that really likes to nerd out on insights about audience attention then you really should subscribe to our other newsletter
(4 min read)
Generation Connie: Why Are There So Many Asian American Women Called Connie
This is such a wonderful story about the importance of representation in the media. On her first day at university, Connie Wang realised she wasn’t the only Connie Wang in her year. So she did a bit of research and realised her generation was full of Connies. So she decided to chat to as many as possible for the New York Times.
(10 min read)
Notes From Prince Harry’s Ghostwriter
This is a fascinating long read for the weekend. If you’ve used up all your free reads, perhaps it’s a good nudge to get a subscription to The New Yorker. I like how he talks about the collaborative process of ghostwriting and how he dealt with Andre Agassi’s response that the first draft of his memoir wasn’t up to scratch: “But, unlike me, he didn’t overreact. He knew that putting a first serve into the net is no big deal. He made countless fixes, and I made fixes to his fixes, and together we made ten thousand more, and in time we arrived at a draft that satisfied us both. The collaboration was so close, so synchronous, you’d have to call the eventual voice of the memoir a hybrid—though it’s all Andre. That’s the mystic paradox of ghostwriting: you’re inherent and nowhere; vital and invisible. To borrow an image from William Gass, you’re the air in someone else’s trumpet.”
(25 min read)
Brands & Humour: Quiet Please
Paddy Gilmore’s Substack is always a great read. This week he looks at how brands can be quiet but effective and how great work whispers rather than pokes. I love the Heinz Spider-man pasta example.
(4 min read)
Nissan’s 4-Hour Advert
Speaking of quiet ads. Whilst I applaud the bravery of this, I can’t help but feel slightly disappointed the team behind it didn’t take the idea further. I’m a big fan of creatives who wear their inspiration proudly. But I’m also a big believer in Jean-Luc Godard's thinking that ‘It's not where you take things from. It's where you take them to.’ If you’ve read this week’s Formats Unpacked you’ll get what I’m saying here. Original ideas are combinations of old ideas. I just don’t think they’ve pushed this enough. I think they missed a trick. Maybe they could’ve done something smart with how the visual loop links to the musical loop. Perhaps they could have looked to the superb and incredibly clever Chemical Brothers Star Guitar video for more inspiration. (via Neil Perkin)
(4 hour watch)
How to Turn Your Ads Into Entertainment
As we say at Storythings, “Don’t do comms, do culture.”
(3 min read)
Introducing Total Crap, the First Magazine Written Entirely By AI (McSweeney’s)
Get your subscription now: “Our technology has rendered terrible human writers obsolete. Clichés, plagiarism, lazy repetition of unexamined ideas—this software does it all. We dare you to find a single bad scribe who can disgrace themselves and their profession faster than ChatTCM.”
(2 min read)
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Thanks for reading. We’ll see you all next week.
Hugh, Matt, Anjali and the whole team at Storythings.