Penguin have done some pretty smart things to bring their products and their ethos to a wider public. Frankly, I think there's a lot that many brands could learn from how they're innovating, experimenting, and attempting to engage.
A thought struck me as I was reading this post on the Penguin blog from Colin Brush, one of their senior copywriters. The post deals with the thorny issue of whether it is the story itself, or the telling of the story, which matters most in getting published. Colin makes a good point in that it is often the authors voice that transports us into the author's world, rather than the story, and uses the example of Raymond Chandler, who apparently made up his novels as he went along and famously claimed that when he was unsure what to write next, he'd have someone walk in holding a gun (Colin speculates that this perhaps explains why there is a murder that goes unaccounted for in The Big Sleep):
"You don't read Chandler or Wodehouse for the stories. What happens, and to who, is not why we're reading…What matters to these writers is the telling of the story. This is what separates the truly great writers from the mere scribblers."
So what about advertising? What we say is obviously important – but is it everything it once was? With the myriad ways we now have available to construct narratives, and the proliferating methods in which we can engage people in what we have to say, perhaps the way in which we choose to say it is much more a part of the story than it once was. So I have a question – is it what we tell or how we tell it that is more important? And is the balance changing?