The UN campaign, Life Below Water, was created by the agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners for the global public
According to this marketing firm, the inspiration for this short film comes from the 1956 documentary TI have Silent World
A full English video version is available from the Adweek page.
There are many types of storytellers in film and commercial projects. Just as there are people who give a more layer of complexity to a tape or campaign, there are those who actually end up ruining the shots on which their voice is placed. Of course, a lot has to do with the editing work of the production companies. But there are certain individuals who, no matter what they are saying, automatically raise the quality of the entire project.
One of these iconic voices is Morgan Freeman. The afro-descendant actor not only has a long career in front of the cameras. For a few years now he has become one of the most sought after talents as a storyteller. This is particularly true in the case of the documentary genre, where his voice is the perfect complement to beautiful shots of nature. Just this phenomenon wanted to use the United Nations (UN) for its new campaign.
The result is truly amazing. The initiative aims to promote goal 14 of its Sustainable Development Goals. To do this, the campaign combines Freeman’s voice with beautiful shots of the ocean and the animals that inhabit it. However, the spot takes a more sinister approach when different forms of plastic begin to be treated as the most dangerous predator in the seas. The result is as shocking as it is brilliant.
When does a campaign make good use of a narrator?
Although it is not a style that is used particularly frequently, several institutions and brands have used storytellers for a campaign. For example, Apple used this style for its new spot to promote its zero-emission commitment by 2030. Also Crystal Geiser, for a social responsibility strategy, combined a voice-over with vibrant animation. The audiovisual industry in Mexico did something similar for his last poem.
Considering these examples, it would appear that storytellers are only useful for a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) campaign. Although it is true that it is its most common use, it is not the only one that can be used. However, as already mentioned, it can be complex for them to be used effectively in other initiatives because it is very difficult to retain consumer attention. But it can be achieved if there is a very concrete mix of elements.
As this UN campaign shows, the biggest hook for a narrative business initiative must be the image. Brands that intend to use a voiceover should have visuals that call and then hold the attention of the audience. Once the hook is firm, the narrator has the freedom to transmit information that, in an exclusively visual medium, would be more difficult to make known to all users.
The advantages of hiring a good storyteller for your campaign
Of course, more than one campaign can completely avoid the use of a narrator, or an audio that supports the construction of the initiative. Devondale’s example, while lacking in other respects, is good at showing what can be accomplished almost without dialogue. The Burger King initiative in Chile is so simple that you can live without having to use sounds or music of any kind. Japan also demonstrated that simple visuals are enough to create something unique.
But there are specific benefits that a campaign can take advantage of if you use a narrator for your spot. According to Debbie Grattan, the brand can be given a new dimension of its identity as a company, associating it with a voice as well as its logo and colors. Connect US notes that it is a direct and clear style, perfect for communicating crucial information to the audience. IGI Global also reaffirms that it is crucial for storytelling in digital marketing.
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