Andrea Menandro: the magic of story

Andrea Menandro from Milan is Senior Digital Manager for Coke Italy. He takes care about the Digital and Social Media strategy for one of the most iconic products in the world. During our retreat we talked with him about the magic of storytelling and why it is more than a mere marketing tool. 

 all Images by  Florian Lierzer

all Images by Florian Lierzer

Listening to stories is a part of human culture since the dawn of human speech. Why do you think did it became so popular in marketing and branding in recent years? 

Everybody loves stories since day one - that's the insight every smart marketing team is using to craft their strategies. Nowadays with the proliferation of channels, brands and offers is everyday more difficult to stand out from the crowd. And telling the right story remains one of the best strategy to be successful. And this is valid above all for brands that can’t rely on a super innovative product like a new iPhone. If I want to sell you a new car or a new pair of jeans I need to open an emotional conversation with you. "Classic" ad based marketing is still happening, but what is changing is the way brands are telling their stories: one story a year is not enough if you want to keep contact with your customers, you need to feed them with fresh stuff everyday cause the competition out there is massive.

And what makes a successful story for brands?

The most important thing is authenticity. If it’s fake this will come out in 2 minutes, it’s the beauty of the internet. People need to relate to the story, this should resonate concretely in their life. Between a brand and a user there must always be a shared value. I consume your story if i can get something from it: an information, an emotion, entertainment etc.

But there are other opinions out there: The famous Graphic Designer Stefan Sagmeister, for instance, is one of the most popular critics of storytelling - arguing that Companies should stick to their products instead of creating stories...

...this is bullshit. Every brand has a story to tell. And yes, not every story is interesting or, better, can be a marketing tool. The thing is that telling a good story and produce it is tough, is a big challenge. Running a display campaign is easier but classic marketing tools like these are struggling in the recent years. Innovation is proving us marketers new tools like programmatic buying or marketing automation but nothing is so powerful like telling the right story. As said before, brands with kick-ass products have an easier life in telling stories but any company can have results from storytelling



What are the reasons people „listen“ to a story? What makes a good story for you? Both in general as in marketing and branding?

A story can make you richer and can give you emotions. And this is valid from day 1 of your life so it’s natural like breathing or eating, we simply need it. A good story is like a good movie so it could entertain you (comedy), it could make you cry (drama), it could give you information (documentary) etc. Do you know anyone that does not love movies?

What are examples for good corporate storytelling for you?

The best example out there is Patagonia. I recently read a book from their founder, Yvon Chouinard, and he clearly explains their strategy. 55% of their content strategy is dedicated to tell stories around what they really care as a company: hero climbers, planet issues, organic food etc. And their authenticity comes from the fact that Patagonia really cares about these topics, it’s not just a marketing strategy. This is a win-win, I really recommend every content guy to read this wonderful book.

Another good example from recent years is Reebok and their success with all the CrossFit community. They decided to support the movement not only with their products but telling stories about athletes, organizing events, providing tutorials and much more.

What are your experiences with the brands you worked with?

My company based its historic success on stories. In recent years we put names on the cans and we let people tell their stories online using our products. The challenge is staying relevant every year because content consumption boomed in the last year and we’re trying to find a new formula to increase content frequency without penalizing the quality that always characterized us.

And apart from Marketing – which stories do you like to tell? For example your daughter?

Telling stories to my baby is the easiest thing in the world, she loves any kind of story! Lately her favorite request is “Daddy, tell me the story of the day I was born”. So, a real authentic story that makes me cry every time :)