The American Airlines commercials that ran over the 4th of July holiday are remarkable and a wonderful lesson in how to tell a powerful story.

(Please do not read below until you’ve seen the commercials)

Think of how far less compelling this messaging would have been if we had taken the analytical approach that is all too common at our stations:

(Generic percussion bed starts) “American Airlines wants you to know that any person who is currently serving in the military will be allowed boarding on our airplanes prior to other passengers. (zip sfx) You must be wearing military uniform or show your military ID at least one hour prior to check-in. No exceptions!  (Reverb echo) If you fail to check in by the appointed deadline, American Airlines is not obligated to give you advance boarding. Thanks for serving our country.”  (patriotic stinger)

When writing promos, start with discovering THE EMOTION of the concept.  Is it comfort?  Love of family?  Encouragement?  Then write the little movie that communicates that emotion.  Please keep the laundry list of details to a minimum.   The purpose of a promo or an imaging piece is to create interest, not give information.   I like the discipline Roy Williams suggests, “Purposely give barely enough information.”

Win the heart and the mind will follow.