Mark Figliulo of Figliulo&Partners on Episodic Storytelling [POV]

Jami Oetting
Jami Oetting



mark-figliuloMark Figliulo is the founder and CEO of Figliulo&Partners, a brand agency he launched in 2013 with Judith Carr-Rodriguez. Mark has 25 Cannes Lions to his name, and before launching out on his own, he was the chief creative officer at TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York.

Why was Figliulo&Partners founded? What did you want to do differently?

Our industry has changed dramatically; I knew there was a need for new models. With media becoming more fragmented and marketers becoming too executional, it felt like the right time to find a different approach for creating big ideas. Of course, digital plays a big role in that.

What differentiates Figliulo&Partners from other marketing advertising firms?

Our expertise lies in both big brand and big digital, so we embrace data without suppressing creativity and innovation. Data is essentially history, while ideas are the future – so we develop the ideas first, then filter and grow them with data.

What is episodic storytelling and why are brands turning to this format?

Episodic storytelling for brands requires a strong structure – including characters, places and themes – but it also embraces variation such as media channels, media length, changes over time, seasonality, promotions and new products.

What are some of the best examples of episodic storytelling?

In the past advertisers have done this successfully with one character, but not enough brands do long running campaigns anymore. We are telling Sprint’s story with an ensemble, and the different characters allow for more variation. The best examples of episodic storytelling right now are on cable TV (Game of Thrones, House of Cards) and we’re seeing different models online, too (Between Two Ferns).

How do you define storytelling? How does it differ from advertising of the past?

A story is about plot, characters and setting and it is something that is told over time. We have always been good at telling stories in advertising, but in the past it was limited to character and setting. Now we are able to add dimension by shifting characters, media, and environment. The consumer is now part of the storytelling too, but at the end of the day, you still have to tell a story.

What key elements must a brand story have?

The key elements are the brand and product, and telling stories that a consumer will want to hear. It’s so easy for them to tune out if it’s not relevant and entertaining.

What is one of your favorite campaigns your agency has worked on?

My favorites coming out of the Sprint Frobinsons campaign are “Framily Portrait” and “NBA” featuring Kevin Durant. “Framily Portrait” was the perfect setup to introduce this work and sheds light on the characters viewers were excited to find out more about. “NBA” allowed us to be stylistic and add a new layer of absurdity to the campaign.

What advertising trend do you find most interesting and why?

Data. The more info we have about the brand, the consumer and the product, the better we can tell the story.

Must read book:

“The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood” by James Gleick

Connect with Mark on LinkedIn.

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