LONDON – To stay relevant, brands have to move from storytelling to ‘story doing’, speakers from Havas Red and ManPowerGroup told the PRovokeEMEA Summit in London last week.

In a panel led by Havas Red Uk and European CEO Rachael Sansom, the agency’s executive creative director for the UK and Europe Andrew Stevens warned that a recent Havas Meaningful Brands global report had found that 75% of brands could disappear overnight and most people would not care.

He referenced the recent ‘Last Photo’ exhibition for UK charity CALM as an example of creative work that was “touching communities in a real way. Community is a strong word when we’re talking about story doing.”

Another example was a Havas Red campaign for NHS Blood & Transplant. This aimed to increase blood donations from the Black community by moving away from storytelling – for instance a press release full of statistics – and instead made heroes of ‘super-donors’, celebrating five individuals whose donations had saved 3,000 lives, with a mural in an area of London with a significant Black community. The campaign saw blood donor registrations from the target audience rise by an unheard-of 500%.

Panellist Savannah Dixon, head of communications at recruitment giant ManpowerGroup, said it was vital for brands to remain authentic when taking this more engaging and effective creative approach: “We have to think about telling a story about what’s within our realm of change. I wish I could put up salaries for everyone but that’s not within our remit – what we can do is say more highly skilled people earn better.”

Dixon also outlined how this approach had been used for a successful campaign upskilling workers, which saw a quarter receive a pay rise after a year of training.

Stevens said Havas Red had “seen great success in helping clients move in measurable increments up the trust scale to defeat cynicism and make people feel included.”

“Don’t talk about people, make people part of the story,” he said. “When you involve them you immediately get buy-in.”