Don’t Throw Stones at a Glass House: Storytelling

April 20th, 2011

The most successful stories engage audiences in a way that makes them feel like they’re a part of the story. We call the progression to this ultimate goal, The Seven Stages of Audience Engagement. How does a successful story take customers from unaware bystanders to engaged evangelists? Well if all else fails, you could always just lock one of them in a room for a month until they see things your way. No, really. It works.

Earlier this week Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota released one of its subscribers from his month long captivity inside a glass apartment inside the Mall of America. (Don’t worry he volunteered for the gig). This “inside-the-box” idea was part of a larger campaign launched in 2004 by the health insurance provider known as “Do Groove.”  It’s aimed at tackling obesity in the state by encouraging people to “groove” their bodies for about 30 minutes each day.

The man dubbed “Scott, The Human Doing,” was tasked with taking on a healthier lifestyle while thousands of people looked on. Since he was stuck in a glass box, he really had no choice. He ate healthier, exercised and sat around a lot less.  The result was a 29 pound weight-loss over the course of the month. The experience truly transformed his body and lifestyle. Just take a look at this video diary entry from his final day.

Scott’s story and circumstance were certainly interesting, but in order to create a truly immersive campaign, Blue Cross and Blue Shield had to connect its audience to what Scott was experiencing.

This was accomplished through a plethora of social media strategies including the aforementioned video diary, a blog, a Facebook page and a twitter account. And then there were the thousands of people that saw him in the mall over the last month. In just thirty days, The Human Doing Facebook page gained more than 4400 likes (pretty good for a localized initiative), and many of its followers were inspired by Scott to take up healthier living themselves and, more importantly, pass on the message.

One poster to Facebook wrote last week, “Me and my boys walked 3.1 miles yesterday.” Another wrote, “So many people are inspired, and we’re passing it along to others who don’t know about the project.” If that’s not an evangelist, I don’t know what is.

So why did this story engage its audience so effectively? It was relatable, understandable, and simple.  The slogan was as simple and as it gets. “One man. In a box. For 30 days.” The concept was easy for people to grasp. It was relatable because almost everyone wishes they could be a little healthier and lose a few pounds. When you watch that video, Scott seems like he could be your friend, your neighbor or maybe even you. Scott “The Human Doing” took on the role of every-man for 30 days and the result was a campaign that continues to have legs. Only now, those legs are running.

Exercise your brain: Why do you think Scott’s story was so compelling? What kinds of stories compel an audience to participate in the action? Let us know what you think

Posted Under: Storytelling
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