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Visual Storytelling

When thinking about effective storytelling approaches and techniques, the silent movie legacy of visual storytelling can be a helpful and inspirational starting point for creative execution considerations.

The motion picture era began in France in 1895 when the Lumiere brothers were the first to project moving, photographic images to a paying audience.

Their later Le voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon), directed by Georges Méliès, was the world’s first ever science-fiction movie and was screened to international acclaim in 1902.

The Man On The Moon

The story was based on the Jules Verne novel ‘From the Earth to the Moon’ and featured a spaceship landing in the man on the moon’s right eye. The scene remains one of the most iconic movie images in the history of cinema.

The Golden Age of The Silent Movie

This ‘Golden Age’ that followed was a period during which the rapid, construction of movie theatres occurred globally to accommodate an increasing audience demand.

It also saw the introduction of copy panels and movie sub-titles that at the time was considered to be a major innovation. By merely changing the text to the language desired, any possible comprehension barriers could be transcended.

This was followed by the invention of full-colour feature-length films and shortly afterwards, the development of movies with sound that became known as a ‘soundtrack’.

The addition of sound ushered in new storytelling opportunities and narration methods. However, the silent movie era’s visual storytelling effectiveness has remained as a powerful communication technique to this day.

90% of the information the human brain processes instantly is visual. The length of time that information is retained increases tenfold if it is in the form of a visual story.

Here are some more compelling visual stories as additional examples to the many others on this website.

1. Evian, Baby And Me

Advertising Agency: BETC Euro RSCG, Paris

Pierre Dupaquier and Clement Durou who go by the name, ‘We Are From LA’, directed this Evian babies commercial. It motivated a staggering 20 million views on YouTube in two days and a 100 million after 10 weeks. It also achieved 6.9 million shares and four Cannes awards.

2. Evian, Baby Bay

Advertising Agency: BETC Euro RSCG, Paris

Filmed in South Africa and directed by James Rouse, the commercial builds on Evian’s hugely successful ‘Live Young’ theme. It motivated 123 million views on YouTube in the first weeks of airing.

3. Jean-Paul Gaultier, On The Docks

 Advertising Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Paris

The high-end fashion accessory and perfume genre of advertising is all about image. Sensually elegant and visually seductive images are the cornerstones of successful brand building for this advertising segment.

Johnny Green directed this dramatically impactful and sensual love story underscored by the resonant soundtrack of ‘Casta Diva’ from Bellini’s ‘Norma’. Apart from the totally unnecessary intrusion of a ‘voice-over’ at the end, it is a visually driven story of breathtaking imagery.

4. Nissan Rogue, Winter Warrior

 Advertising Agency: TBWA, Toronto, Canada

This brilliantly conceived idea of using rampaging snowmen as a visual metaphor for the threatening harshness of winter driving conditions, was directed by Mark Zibert with great visual storytelling drama.

5. Audi A5, Clowns

Advertising Agency: BBH (Bartle Bogle Hegarty), London

In this groundbreaking automotive advertising category for advanced safety technology, this commercial cleverly uses clowns as an effective visual metaphor for the silly antics of road users one encounters at times.

Directed by much lauded Ringan Ledwidge, this very visual story is rewardingly watchable.

The muted strains of Stephen Sondheim’s “Send In the Clowns” by Faultline and Lisa Hannigan, adds a somber undertone that highlights the seriousness of automotive safety.

6. Jagermeister, Whipped Cream

Advertising Agency: La Red, Berlin

The commercial, directed by Greg Bray with great emotive insight, is a visual story about a very mundane retail outlet encounter that becomes an amusing human tale with much pathos. One can’t help having some sympathy for the guy and his wish to participate in whatever salacious party trick the girls seem to be planning.