Paper for my composition class:
Reading Response for The Secrets of Storytelling: Why We Love a Good Yarn by Jeremy Hsu.
With one phrase Merlot went from the penthouse to the outhouse. Sideways was charged with decreasing the amount of Merlot Americans consumed because a movie character, presented to us as a wine know-it-all, refused to drink it. I am reminded of the show Beavis and Butt-head and how the little nerdy kid wearing the Winger shirt ruined the career of the band. There are lots of reasons why a particular wine or band would fall out of favor but can we really link the cause back to a fictional character? Jeremy Hsu suggests we can in his article, The Secrets of Storytelling: Why We Love a Good Yarn.
When we want to escape our everyday lives we turn to our favorite portal, press a few buttons and get lost in any number of stories. We love a good tale because we connect with the characters. Companies understanding our need to connect exploit the Sideways effect by exploring the use of narratives in advertisements. As businesses speculate on what motivates us to buy a specific product or service, they also encourage us to become part of the story.
Word of mouth can make or break a business. For me, the depth and truth of the narrative will increase my attention span. A skinny model promoting Weight Watchers does not work as well as an American Idol with a story to share. I’m more interested in watching Jennifer Hudson’s journey because I think I “know” her. I can celebrate Jennifer’s success and although I cannot relate to her current status of fame, I can walk in the shoes of all those struggling with weight loss.
I do wonder how long the Sideways effect lasts. Sheila McClain discusses in her article, Fitness Culture: A Growing Trend in America, how celebrity endorsements of fitness centers increase sign ups but do little to maintain the motivation of those clients. Will we fall back to Merlot on our own, or do we need another story to hip us to Merlot’s current status quo? Either way we must be aware of how easy our minds can change.