The true power of storytelling

In a time of much debate, we’ve reached at least one consensus: the most compelling and engaging marketing is done through storytelling. Because of this consensus, we devoted an entire Friday Live session to it (Friday live 7th July 2017) where our team explained how to use the power of storytelling.

There are many definitions of storytelling but we like this one: storytelling is an opportunity “to tell stories as part of direct and indirect brand marketing initiatives”(4 benefits of using storytelling in marketing).

The best way to explain the power of storytelling is, of course, to tell you a story. A storytelling phenomenon hit Spain last week and the hero of it is none other than Manuel Bartual, the brother of our own graphic designer Daniel. Called by some the new “Orson Welles,” Manuel recently shared a story on his Twitter account about strange events during his stay in Majorca. His story was so successful that he grew his number of followers to a whopping 400,000. The first tweet of the series was liked 115k times, retweeted 61k times and had 4800 replies

It all started with this tweet on the 21st of August, saying “I’ve been on vacation for a few days now, at a hotel near the beach. Everything was going alright until strange things started to happen”.

Manuel begins by mentioning that a tall man paid him a visit in his hotel room. The man couldn’t speak clearly so Manuel had some trouble understanding. Then the man simply gave Manual a card that looked exactly like the one to his room and disappeared.

After the strange encounter, Manuel went to reception and explained the situation. But the young woman couldn’t help.

Later that day, Manuel noted that he had lost a t-shirt just like the one shown below.

The next morning, Manuel ran into the tall man at breakfast. After polite conversation, the tall man explained that he entered Manuel’s room by mistake the night before.

Thinking that the whole thing was a mistake, Manuel decided to forget the situation. However, when he went back to his room later, he found a pencil on his bathroom floor.

This surprised Manuel. Of course, the pencil could have come from the cleaning staff. But either way, he was becoming more and more nervous.

On August 22nd, everything became more intriguing. Walking out on the beach, Manuel claims that he saw the tall man with another man. The other man was actually wearing Manuel’s t-shirt!

This is when Manuel became determined. He quickly went back to his room and decided that he would do everything he could to find out what was happening.

The opportunity for that came the day after. Walking on the hotel grounds, Manuel saw the man with the shirt. Instead of running from him, Manuel decided to follow. First, the man got a drink at a local bar.

After the drink, the man went to a supermarket and Manuel followed him. This was his chance to see the man’s face for the first time. What Manuel saw, shook him. The man was actually MANUEL! Someone who looked exactly like HIM!

Should he have run away? Would he get the truth? How was the tall man related to all this? Where did the pencil come from? Check Manuel’s Twitter account to see how the story ends.

This story quickly became a success. Many famous people got involved and companies took the chance to do some advertising around it.

Iker Casillas, a world cup Spanish goalkeeper actually tweeted Manuel about the story saying “Where are you, Manuel?”.

Trivago, a popular traveling website also joined the conversation saying “We believe there was a misunderstanding @ManuelBartual. Our filter is for “bedrooms for two,” not “bedrooms for doubles.”

The case was so serious that even the police got involved, assuring Manuel that they were actually working on the case. They wrote on Twitter “our cyber agents have been following the clues for days now, be calm Manuel! It seems like the beginning of operation Pesesín!”

In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Manuel explained that he never thought his story would become such a success. And here’s the big twist: Manuel created the entire story. “From the beginning, it was very clear to me what I wanted to tell and how I wanted to tell it: the order of the events, the places… I knew, furthermore, that the story would only last 7 days. I just improvised some lines with a sense of humor to make the audience closer to the story.”.

He also gave interviews to various Spanish TV and radio stations.


Interview Manuel Bartual

Perhaps Manuel was inspired by Simon Pegg

In 2012, a Hollywood actor called Simon Pegg decided to tweet about the possibility that a non-human creature was living in his attic. Just like Manuel, Simon began by saying it couldn’t be true. However, after a planned visit to his attic, he didn’t tweet for 3 days.

Soon, his sister and a good friend became involved but after trying to find him, they went missing as well.

If you want to see how the story ends, check out this Youtube interview that Pegg did with Conan O’Brien in 2012 ( Simon Pegg’s interview).

Most important in all of this, stories are incredibly powerful. Tell a good story and you’ll have the ears of your audience. We proved it, thanks to Manuel and Simon, and we hope it’s now clear how effective storytelling can be.

It’s certain that more of these stories will appear in future. On our end, we will follow along and keep you in the loop. In the meantime, we’d like to congratulate Manuel Bartual for his viral story on Twitter. It’s definitely worth reading. Congratulations, @ManuelBartual.

4 benefits of using storytelling in marketing), Forbes, 30 November 2015
Manuel Bartual interview to El Mundo, El Mundo, 27 August 2017
Simon Pegg’s interview, Youtube Team Coco, 28 March 2012

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