The problem with your story is there’s no problem

Every year, I eagerly await the new John Lewis Christmas video ad. Last year, the story of Edgar the excitable dragon brought me to tears, just like every year prior. This year however, not a misty eye in the house.

What happened? This year presented the world with bigger challenges than any other in modern history. We are all full of emotions that are floating around, searching for a place to land. So how could this year’s edition of emotional elicitation about spreading kindness have come up so dry? 

The problem is, there is no problem in the story. There is just some sweet stuff that happens, and then, the end. The message is clear. We should all strive to be more kind. But when, for nearly a year, we have all had fingers wagged in our faces about what we should and shouldn’t do in every area of our lives, this just felt like one more wag.

Had the story simply established the problem that there is someone in deep need of kindness, and then showed us how things change, for the both the giver and receiver of kindness, all of the great animation and live action would have made an impact. I would have once again been blessed with “crying in the bathtub face” as I have always been this time of year. 

So, when we need to move people to action, to get them to buy what we are selling, we need to connect with them through a moving story. And to tell a moving story, we must never forget this simple formula

No problem, no story. No story, no connection. No connection, no sale.