Applying Storytelling Techniques Including ...


Being the optimistic type, I would describe most company videos as dreadful.

Consider what happens when you go to an event, meet a new person and that person launches into a soliloquy of “me, me, and in case you missed it, here’s more about me.” Right. You walk away. Why would a company video be any different? Yet, most company videos do exactly that, numbing the senses with superlative after superlative.

This was on my mind when we embarked on creating a video on our 20-year journey in Asia. When you’re in the business of communications, there’s extra pressure to shape your own communications with the same tenets espoused to clients.

I think we do this.

The video tells back stories — our Asia Pacific MD in a taxi in Tokyo with Larry Page from Google with a Wall Street Journal reporter running after the taxi with one last question — that frame our style and philosophies.

The visual elements feathered into the interviews show that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

I believe we kept the bragging at less than 35 seconds.

And thanks to my parents, a touch levity closes the storytelling.

Here’s the video (and hoping I’m not the cobber’s kid missing a shoe).



  • Martin Kralik, Kuala Lumpur

    Overall, a good effort: It succeeds in condensing 20 years of pioneering effort into the brief space of five minutes – and that is not an easy task.

    I do find that how the video ultimately comes across will largely depend on the audience. In this respect, I feel that the sensitivity behind the video is 100% western / American. In some circles, that might raise some eyebrows, given that what we are celebrating here is a history of one’s business achievement in ASIA:

    – Right off the bat, we are shown an individual. Followed by another individual; and another; and another. Not much of the footage presents groups or teams.
    – There is a lot of focus on having overcome obstacles. On occasion in the past, we stumbled; but we got up; we learned, we persevered.
    – The creators don’t shy away from raw language – “what the heck”; “executioner”.
    I’m sure a US audience will be impressed.

    What about an Asian audience of local clients, partners, policymakers?
    – They would likely prefer to see more of Asia. Of celebrating the region’s success as well as the agency’s. They might prefer to see the montage of Asia’s iconic skyscrapers BEFORE we start interviewing individual managers.
    – We always hear about Asian cultures striving for harmony, right? In that context, words like “heck”, “executioner” etc. will sound dissonant, and possibly spoil quite a bit of the impression the video is meant to leave.
    – Harmony also means that there is a time and place. And an anniversary corporate video may not quite be the place for making sweeping statements about how “everything is different in Japan” and such.

    My two cents.

    In summary: What the video in its current shape tells us is: “It’s rough out here in Asia. Very confusing, confounding. But we as individuals – Ishmael, Maureen, Rasheed – we are fighters… We made it.”

    What an Asian audience would expect it to say: “This is a vibrant region. We have been privileged to be here and to learn. Working as a team, and in a dialog with our local clients and partners, we hope to contribute even more to Asia’s success.”

    • Lou Hoffman

      We appreciate your two cents.

      The audience isn’t Western or Asian. The audience is global. Of course, we recognize that by the virtue of the video being in English, it has limitations. With that said, our Asian team in collaboration with a video house based Singapore created the video.

      As for responses. it’s still too early to come to a conclusion. But if the take-away message ends up being “they’re fighters” I figure we could do worse.


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