As we covered in our last episode, status is based on real or perceived threat, but not just from people. Any one of us can experience low status in regard to an object, environment, emotion or situation. What could threaten members of the audience for your advertiser?
Here are some examples: pain, hunger, poverty, peer pressure, dreaded phone call (from a creditor), blind date, job interview, homework, animals, choosing a college, public speaking, learning a new skill, medical procedure, technology, applying for a loan, large purchase (house, car, engagement ring), death, raising a child, lack of control in any situation.
Now what does your client have that would help a person go from low status to high status regarding any of those (or any other threat)? Create a commercial around that scenario.
Apply the same approach for someone with whom a person might experience low status: state trooper, future in-law, teacher, parent, salesperson, manager, prospective significant other, customer service rep or wealthy neighbor.
How can the advertiser help change their prospective customer’s status? Make that your story. Show it. The advertiser, product or service is the catalyst for change.
Status change is one of the ways to make your commercial more interesting. Most comedy is based on the movement of status; someone with an inflated ego has his pompous balloon deflated. We laugh because his status went from high to low. We can be inspired when a low status person is elevated to higher status.
NOTE: You can raise and lower someone’s status at the same time. This is what is called a “Backhanded Compliment”. Example – Princess Leia talking to Han Solo in Star Wars when she sees the Millennium Falcon for the first time – “You came in that thing? You’re braver than I thought.”
Status helps define characters’ personalities. Someone can be a high status organized planner in a relationship with a spontaneous free spirit. The relationship works because they each offer something to the other that they don’t have inherent in their makeup.
Each one of us is playing status to everything in our environment at this moment, effortlessly and perfectly naturally, which is why it’s such a powerful technique and why you are already good at it, and probably using it in your commercials now without thinking about it.
I’ve only touched the surface of the application of this principle, but with a little conscious awareness of how it works, you can use it quickly and realistically as an effective tool to create any dramatic circumstance. This is why it’s so useful in writing commercials – its speed and realism make it invaluable.
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