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Une histoire vraie

17/01/2008 - par Mark Tungate

I've been thinking about the art of storytelling. It all started when I was sitting in front of a blazing log fire in Marrakech. Our room at the riad came equipped with a fireplace, and as it was a bit chilly in the evening we asked one of the staff if we could light a fire. He arrived with an armful of logs and cheerfully got one going. Once the fire was crackling away, throwing eerie orange light around the room, I was tempted to tell a ghost story - just like our ancestors did.

When I got back to Paris, I read a review of a new book called Rengen : Renaissance Generation, by Patricia Martin. The author believes that we now live in the age of the cultural consumer. Far from being the reality TV-obsessed dummies many advertisers consider them to be, consumers are creating content and visiting cultural events like never before. They love cinema and read many books : in fact, 61 % of Americans describe reading as their favourite leisure activity. And the way to reach this consumer, says Martin, is through storytelling. « Tell a human story in which your brand plays a role, » she advises.

As an aspiring storyteller myself (and the best journalism is simply a good story well told) I can identify with this. It also explains the media's obsession with Barack Obama. A young black man, whose father was a Kenyan farmer, running for president of the United States ? It's the American dream made flesh. And above all, it's one hell of a story.

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