Five key campaigns using visual storytelling archetypes to engage audiences

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Universal archetypes are all around us. From the Rebel to the Innocent, the Hero to the Caregiver, archetypes are used to tell stories in popular culture, advertising, fairytales, myths and media.

These characters tap into overarching themes and experiences that ultimately transcend our differences, thus offering a way to interpret and connect with people and products on a deeper level. They form a collective understanding, a unifying human experience, and therefore, trust in the brand. Below are five examples of inspired campaigns that successfully use archetypes to engage consumer audiences.

 

1.  Explorer – Lurpak 

Lurpak successfully portrays the viewer as the Explorer in this commercial. It places you in the driver’s seat, challenging you to a bold and dangerous mission: cooking dinner. The threats seem impossible, but with the inspiring theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey playing in the background, you accept. Beginning at the edge of the cabbage earth, you embark through difficult vegetable terrain, falling pomegranate seeds and asteroid eggs.  Once your stove reaches lift off, there is no turning back.  Boldly, you engage Lurpak’s Cook’s Range products and dinner is served. Mission accomplished. 

This campaign even encourages you to venture forth and expand your meal exploration by posting to #foodadventures.  

 

#143920970 / gettyimages.com

 

2.  Caregiver – Robinsons

You might need to watch this commercial twice, because it’s so surprising and sweet. By visually leveling the playing field, the main characters are depicted as friends through most of the commercial. When the father/son dynamic is finally revealed, the commercial states, “It’s good to be a dad. It’s better to be a friend”. Historically, the archetype of the caregiver is traditionally female; however this is a great example of how the caregiving role is evolving into a more modern definition. This tagline highlights the loving, fun side of fatherhood and connects the Robinsons’ product to bonding moments between father and son. We love this visual story of caregiving and the collective “awwww” it achieves.   

 

#131289195 / gettyimages.com

 

3.  Lovers – Wren

This viral video for Wren uses intimacy to convey its message. Although the couples are unfamiliar with each other at the start, when they kiss on screen you feel an immediate connection. The Lovers archetype encompasses all types of love, and this campaign illustrates that. The couples are all different, yet they are each swept up in a spell and are transformed from strangers to intimates, even if just for a moment. It’s a spark that we want to experience ourselves - and it sparked Wren’s sales by nearly 14,000%.

 

#125770265 / gettyimages.com

 

4.  Creator – Honda

“Let’s see what curiosity can do” is the opening to this commercial – and show us they do.  This commercial is full of creativity and transformation, distinguishing its brand amongst competitors by using the Creator archetype. We are taken through the innovative history of Honda products, from the engineer’s point of view, beginning with a single bolt. By turning motorcycles into cars, and robots into planes, we watch the story of creativity and visions unfold against a soundtrack of triumphs. Halfway through, the engineer is even replenished by a sip of water, literally fueling himself from his own imagination. Honda’s story isn’t shown from the perspective of a mass-manufacturer, but instead they depict themselves as a limitless creator with a literally “hands-on” approach.

 

#143911346 / gettyimages.com

 

5.  Rebel – Warsteiner 

Warsteiner, Germany’s premium independent beer company, tells people to be who they want to be and live how they want to live. Their ‘no judgments’ attitude encourages people to take risks, break rules and live life to the fullest; all attributes of the Rebel archetype. Every person depicted in this campaign is a real, authentic person who lives by their own set of rules. They are true to themselves and therefore, true to Warsteiner.  

 

#467157811 / gettyimages.com

 

*Bonus* - Google Play

‘Play Your Heart Out’ is right! This ad is all about playing who you want to be in your own narrative.  It centers around the human heartbeat, emphasizing stories and emotion through well known references. Each reference speaks to the visual language of archetypes - e.g. WALL-E as Lovers, Wolverine as Hero, John Belushi as Rebel, the band Queen as Creator, Daenerys as Caregiver, Zoolander as Jester, and so on. Without these universal archetypes, this campaign would be just a frantic mashup of unrelated clips. Instead, it is an engaging, emotional piece with a message that we all can relate to. It’s ultimately about what we care about, and who we are.

 

Key takeaways:

  • Universal characters engage consumer audiences and build trust in your brand.
  • Successful campaigns use archetypes to connect people with products on a deeper level.
  • Brands that are storytellers inspire consumers with a message that is relatable and engaging.

 

Discover more images portraying these five visual storytelling archetypes.

Read more about using archetypes to connect with your audience in our article "Visual storytelling: Meet the archetypes".

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