Growing Bolder: The Power of Storytelling

Only great storytelling has the potential to appeal to all viewers regardless of age, gender, race, religion or geography. Only great storytelling transcends all demographic bounds.
02/17/2011 10:41am ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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The Ogilvy creative team in Taiwan has produced a great example of the power of storytelling. The agency has just created a three-minute ad for a Taiwan bank that asks the question, "What do people live for?"

It's a wonderful illustration of something we say nearly every day in the offices of the Bolder Media Group -- that only great storytelling has the potential to appeal to all viewers regardless of age, gender, race, religion or geography. Only great storytelling transcends all demographic bounds.

The long-form commercial is about a group of 80-year-olds, which means the concept would automatically be dismissed by most U.S. companies who feel that the subject matter alone would turn off their younger and presumably more desirable customers. But here's the truth -- the commercial is inspirational, entertaining and appealing to anyone from age 20 to 90. It makes a point about the purpose of life that eclipses age, gender and geography. It creates a connection between the brand and potential customers of all ages.

I'm both encouraged and frustrated by this splendid piece of creative advertising. Encouraged because this is what we do -- except we do it every week. We tell story after story about ordinary people living extraordinary lives. We tell stories that encourage men and women of all ages to step out of their comfort zone and chase their dreams. And we know we do it well because our Growing Bolder TV show has jumped from two stations to more than 220 stations in just six months. Viewers of all ages are enthusiastic about the show because it proves that there is power in pursuing passions and that finding success is not about age, it's about attitude.

So why am I also frustrated? Because finding corporate support for a great show with a growing audience that doesn't specifically target the most desirable 18-49 demographic is proving to be a difficult challenge. If the show attracts and pleases viewers of all ages, including 18-49, isn't that enough? Shouldn't the fact that the show is especially appealing to the most affluent and highly educated niche of the huge mature market be considered a valuable bonus? Advertisers and corporations who don't understand the power of storytelling wrongly believe that anything that appeals to the over-50 market can't also appeal to the under-50 market.

While the Taiwan bank commercial and others like it are slowly chipping away at this unwarranted demographic bias, there is no question that viewers over the age of 50 and compelling storytelling remain grossly undervalued.

Check out the commercial below and let me know what you think. It's based on a true story about a group of old men who decide to revisit their motorcycling youth after one of their own passes away. The bank's subtle, ageless message at the end of the commercial is, "For Ordinary People With Extraordinary Dreams." If I lived in Taiwan, I'd consider opening an account at TC Bank. If you're a corporation looking for that kind of connection and loyalty here in the U.S., drop me an e-mail -- I've got a great program I'd like you to see.

Note to HuffPost readers: There's a revolution underway, and it's good news for everybody of every age! It's never too late to achieve your dreams. It's never too late to give back to your community and leave a meaningful legacy. It's not about age. It's about attitude. Join the revolution. Confront ageism and fight the stereotypes of age. Watch "Growing Bolder" on PBS stations coast to coast and connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.