Friday, May 23, 2014

Why engaging stories win the competition for attention

I have just been challenged to give examples of different approaches to storytelling between Europe and North America. Here's a classic comparison between two organisations with the same idea, launching at roughly the same time. Which one would you invest in?

The idea: If you build solar panels into the road, you could generate electricity.

The Dutch organisation for Applied Sciences, TNO, claims a world premier in this video released by the producer Mattheus Bleijenberg in October 2013 on YouTube and later with English subtitles on Vimeo. It starts with where this is happening, and what they are doing. But the film never gets round to why I should care. With a registered 124 plays on vimeo within a month, and 714 plays within six months on YouTube, my conclusion is that no-one knows what these guys are doing, or why they should be bothered. And it seems like they have only thought it through to the solar energy generation stage. Yet the idea could do so much more.

Meanwhile in the USA, a company called Solar Roadways has launched their version of the same idea. This is a husband and wife team of entrepreneurs. I thought their Indigogo video suffered from the same problem facing the Dutch story. A bit too much of a documentary style for a crowd funding site. But still, 740,000 views.

Then came a version with Focus Forward magazine. Better for an older age group. But youngsters are not really encouraged to share this. Again, more of a mini documentary style. 270,000 views over a period of two years.

Then along comes another version this month, which clocks up 880,000 views in a week. It not only draws you in, it quickly gives you a whole list of reasons why this single development could be a kickstarter to local economies. Update: As of Sunday June 1st 2014, the video below had clocked over 11 million views.

And the US site, keeps an active eye on what the public are saying and answers their questions. Even if you understand Dutch, the TNO site doesn't draw you into a conversation. You remain an outsider looking in. So you end up losing interest and walking on by. Advantage USA.

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