InScope: Lessons in storytelling, from a Kurdish shepherd turned billionaire


Isabelle O’Brien is a Social Insights Executive in OMD Insights, offering comprehensive end-to-end marketing and consumer driven research solutions.

What makes a good story?

Whether your preferred genre is an action-packed series full of dragons and sword fights or a romantic tale with star-crossed lovers, in an age of diminishing attention spans, the power of a good story is undeniable.

While media is typically a numbers game – statistics, algorithms, CTR’s, CPC’s, and a host of other data measurements that we use – narrative building and storytelling have taken on a new rank in the advertiser’s arsenal of expertise.

Data now shares its position on top of the pedestal with Content, as audiences become more sceptical of algorithms and embrace content marketing ventures.

By developing content that has a human element, brands are more likely and able to forge emotional connections with customers and audiences. Once the connection is made, the story spreads organically and brands can reap the benefits of earned media.


With up to 92% of consumers trusting word of mouth recommendations, and just 24% trusting online advertising, the value of earned media and understanding of what it is your customers are talking about is of immense importance to brands.


In April this year, the US’s 60 Minutes aired an episode focusing on the Turkish immigrant founder of popular yoghurt brand Chobani. Hamdi Ulukaya arrived in America in the early 90’s, on a student visa with no money and spoke no English. Today, he’s created countless jobs for American’s, offers generous paid parental leave and profit-sharing. Chobani employs hundreds of refugees and runs a program mentoring startups. With a rags-to-riches founding story, a benevolent leader who gives back and supports the underdog, the Chobani marketing team recognised the opportunity available to generate social interest, particularly in the current political climate in the US.


By leveraging the story Chobani had and the programs they were running, the payoffs soon eventuated in earned media – a cover story in Fast Company profiling Mr. Ulukaya, and the 60 Minutes feature episode, and a well-timed advertising campaign to follow – Chobani has now surpassed Yoplait to become the number 1 yoghurt brand in America.


With brands increasingly recognising the value of earned media through storytelling, and perfecting the art through different mediums and platforms it will be interesting to see what stories they will offer throughout 2017 and beyond. And, as important,  will be the ways that we in the industry can continue to support our clients to attain cut-through in this space.




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