Deeper Look At The Viral Video, “The Power Of Words”

Words matter.

To be more specific, our choice of words goes a long way in determining the perception of others (just ask Netflix).

This concept beautifully comes to life in the video, “The Power of Words.”

Andrea Gardner, who heads the online marketing firm Purplefeather based in London, created the video.

Her sense of storytelling immediately comes through in the “About” section on the firm’s website:

I was working for a large newspaper group and contemplating a complete career change in the year 2000 when I decided to test this ‘law of attraction’ that I’d been reading about. So I visualised the most improbable item I could think of – a purple feather – and set the challenge that if it showed up in my life within a week, I would start my own copywriting business.

Exactly a week later, just as I’d dismissed it all as new age bunkum, I looked across the room to see the exact replica of the purple feather I’d visualised, balanced on the windowsill! After I started breathing again …

Andrea was good enough to answer a few questions on storytelling and “The Power of Words” video.


andrea gardnerQ: I really enjoyed the “Why Purplefeather?” section on your website. Did you find it difficult to share such a personal story? Did you have any concerns about potential clients who shy away from the metaphysical?

A: Thanks and yes it took a lot of mmm-ing and ahh-ing before reaching the conclusion that if I wanted to create a business that was in alignment with my personal values where we operate honestly, honourably and effectively, I was going to have to “walk my talk’. Many people have commented favourably on this page and it doesn’t seem to have deterred clients from more traditional commercial backgrounds.

Q: How do you get your clients to buy into a storytelling approach to communications? Or is it a self-selecting process in which prospects who already believe in storytelling gravitate to Purplefeather?

A: The ‘Power of Words’ video is also used as our commercial pitch so once people have seen that they are more curious about our approach. We encourage clients to turn their marketing process inside out and focus on why they’re in business and how that inspires the way they are making a difference rather than looking at their products/services and USPs. It’s more of a values-driven approach and helps them distil their unique message more effectively.

Q: Tell me a little about the genesis for the “Power of Words” video. Was this a story that had been percolating in your mind for some time? Did you storyboard the video?

A: ‘The Power of Words’ was not our original idea; it has been around for many years in various forms. We’ve always credited Alonso Alverez Barreda who created ‘The Story of a Sign’ on which it was based, however we were very conscious that it could be dramatically shortened and repurposed for the web. We originally intended to use it to promote my book ‘Change Your Words, Change Your World’ – which is entirely original and will be published in April 2012 – but when we trialled it at a business presentation, every one of the delegates had an emotional reaction and we recognised it conveyed Purplefeather’s values perfectly.

Q: Did you know the video was powerful and would touch people before it went live?

A: Yes. However we were very surprised and delighted by the response because it sat for just over a year on YouTube without very many views.

Q: What do you say to prospects who come to you asking for a video that will generate 10 million views on YouTube?

A: I don’t believe anyone has the ultimate solution when it comes to viral marketing because much depends on the timeliness of the message and we’re all still on a learning curve. However there are some tips which can help create the conditions where uptake is more likely. Namely:

  • Keep it short. Under 2 minutes if possible.
  • Every scene/word has to earn its living online. Edit hard!
  • Appeal to people’s emotions – humour and conscience work well. Emotive music helps too.
  • For an international audience keep verbal communication to a minimum.

Thank you, Andrea.

We’ll be looking for your book in 2012.

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