Cultural Storytelling Through Advertising
As I started this assignment I immediately thought of the coffee commercial that was a short series like a mini soap opera. I began my searches looking for this coffee commercial as I always wondered what had happen to the couple portrayed in the commercials. One of the last commercials I remembered the couple was introducing their adult children and were engaged I believe. Then they just disappeared quite annoying actually. With some research I found the commercials and it was the Taster’s Choice Coffee couple. The story began with a well dressed woman going to borrow coffee from her handsome neighbor and grew from there (Richard, 1994). They began to flirt with each other as he teased her about his “sophisticated coffee” and she quips back that her guests have “very sophisticated taste” (Dewolf, 1992). These coffee ads featured a British couple Anthony Head and Sharon Maughan (Dewolf, 1992). The series began in England with what was suppose to be three commercials for Taster’s Choice Golden Blend. There were thirteen commercials aired in the U.S. featuring this couple beginning in 1990 (Werder, 2007). This next commercial features the couple meeting at a dinner party where Michael asks the woman (who is never named on a date):
Each commercial that aired was a cliffhanger leaving the viewers wandering just what would happen next. New commercial episodes were announced in TV Guide and on day time news so viewers would not miss it (Werder, 2007). I have included another one of the commercials I found on You Tube and a third video that explains some of the back story of the commercials. The purpose of this digital story was to sell coffee. The social or cultural subtext was the romance between two coffee lovers. The commercials used a well to do couple, dinner parties, and cliff hangers to keep people enticed in this romantic intrigue. It was the upper class social settings that allowed viewers to fantasize about a life style of the rich and beautiful and their good taste that made this series so successful. The relationship between this sophisticated coffee couple kept people wanting to learn more about their brewing romance (Werder 2007). This commercial series was very effective because it kept people enthralled and sold lots of coffee. The commercials increased the Maxwell house brand by $ 596 million dollars and over three share points (Richard, 1994).
Commercials today are using digital storytelling and social media for selling their products. It has taken companies to a new level where they are talking to the customer not at them. In today’s market with social media and digital storytelling customers are looking for and demanding truth in advertising delivered in an interesting and compelling manner (Gleason, 2012).
A Cause: Cultural Storytelling
Midway the Film by Chris Jordan
I continued my search for digital storytelling in a cultural context and found a story of the Laysan Albatross of Midway Island. This cultural digital story is a video that a friend of mine shared on Facebook. I was intrigued by the video and felt that it belong in the category of a cultural video with a cause. These albatross have a breeding rookery on Midway Island and the video shows them bringing back plastic for their chicks. I researched the topic a little and found that the albatross are getting the plastics from the “great Pacific garbage patch” (Moore, 2003). This digital story is very well done with many of the elements of digital storytelling including voice of Chris Jordan, soundtrack, pacing, and point of view with emotion. As an ornithologist and ecologist this story saddens me. It is very powerful, but it made me feel powerless to help these birds or the Pacific Ocean. Moore says in his Ted Talk that I have also included though it isn’t necessarily a digital story that it is probably impossible to clean the ocean and the only thing we can do is to stop throwing plastic into the environment where it can be caught in the ocean currents and eaten by birds. You can also check out midwayjourney.com for more videos by researchers and Chris Jordan on Midway Island. There is a link for this and other information on the albatross on my Learnist curation. This is an extremely important environmental cause it not only effects these birds, but the entire ocean ecosystem. There is a small thing that we can all do to help these birds please never throw bottle caps away without first putting them back on the bottles. It was determined that much of the plastic the birds were eating and feeding to their young is plastic bottle caps (Moore, 2003). So please recycle when you can and never throw or toss out bottle caps.
Cultural Storytelling in Education
The last bit of searching I did I came across the digital story cultural exchange. On this website from New South Wales, AU they highlight several projects by students around the world including the day in the life, Koori Story Exchange, Digi Diaries and many other interesting projects. I have not had time to view many of these videos, but as a teacher I found this site quite interesting and worth mentioning. I will explore it more when I have more time. Digital Story Cultural Exchange
So my search has come full circle this digital cultural storytelling adventure began with a memory. It was there that my searching took me back to find the Taster’s Choice Couple. I don’t think the story ever was really resolved they met, they dated, we all fell in love with the romance. The last commercial was supposed to tell the ending of the story did she stay with Michael or go back to her ex-husband Andrew who appeared in the last commercial with her son home from college. We will never know, but romance sells and so did the coffee. More and more commercials are using cultural digital storytelling today branding still works, but a good story sells even more. Next part of my circle and digital cultural storytelling was a story with a cause that I hope we can all care about. The Laysan Albatross need our help. This beautiful pelagic seabird is threatened by what we do so we need to pay attention to what we throw away. This is part of the adventure we all need to go on together not just for the albatross, but for the Earth and all its biodiversity. So we come full circle back to education. There are so many ways that cultural digital storytelling is important to learning and teaching. I know as a teacher any time I can add one of my own stories to a lesson my students are engaged. And more importantly allowing them to tell their stories or stories of their learning not only engages, but gives them ownership of their learning.
(2009, 24). YouTube. YouTube – Anthony Head – Taster’s Choice Commercial. Retrieved February 5, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpOBFELO0Qc
(2009, 10). YouTube. YouTube – Gold Blend Explained – Anthony Head. Retrieved February 16, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLRJu-dS704
Dewolf, R. (1992, 16). Featured Articles From The Orlando Sentinel. Taster’s Choice Soap Opera Ads Brew Ongoing Success – Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved March 2, 2013, from http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1992-12-16/lifestyle/9212150683_1_taster-choice-instant-coffee-doorbell-rings
Gleason, C. (2012, July 24). 5 Brands Taking Digital Storytelling To The Next Level | Ignite Social Media. Home | Ignite Social Media. Retrieved February 24, 2013, from http://www.ignitesocialmedia.com/video-marketing/digital-storytelling-examples/
Jordan, C. (2012, ). Vimeo, Your Videos Belong Here. MIDWAY : trailer : a film by Chris Jordan on Vimeo. Retrieved February 14, 2013, from http://www.midwayfilm.com/
Moore, C. (2009, ). TED: Ideas worth spreading. Capt. Charles Moore on the seas of plastic | Video on TED.com. Retrieved February 20, 2013, from http://www.ted.com/talks/capt_charles_moore_on_the_seas_of_plastic.html
Richard, L. (1994, June 13). Since its romantic couple first graced the airwaves in november 1990, taster’s choice has managed to increase its dollar share of the $596 million soluble coffee market by more than 3 share points, leapfrogging past folgers and maxwell house into the no. 1 postion taster’s choice rolls love potion no. 9. Retrieved February 14, 2013. From http://adage.com/article/news/romantic-couple-graced-airwaves-november-1990-taster’s-choice-managed-increase-dollar-share-596-million-soluble-coffee-market-3-share-points-leapfrogging-past-folgers-maxwell-house-1-postion-taster-s-choice-rolls-love-potion-9/86709/
Werder, O. (2007, ). Google Books. Critical Thinking About Sex, Love, and Romance in the Mass Media: Media … – Google Books. Chapter 3 Brewing Romance: The Romantic Fantasy Theme of the Taster’s Choice “Couple” Advertising Campaign Retrieved March 10, 2013, from http://books.google.com/books?id=ziig2qqQ128C&pg=PA35&lpg=PA35&dq=taster%27s+choice+couple+commercials&source=bl&ots=7d-85oAxoe&sig=y69FTBV3Jl1EPMQ5uSN4BZVewnA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=hyY8UeiODcKOrAHEvoCQCw&sqi=2&ved=0CF4Q6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=taster%27s%20choice%20couple%20commercials&f=false