Q&A: Omar Epps and Darren “Daz” McColl on Storyscaping
Omar Epps, actor, tech investor and star of ABC’s new drama “Resurrection,” partnered up with Darren “Daz” McColl, SapientNitro’s Global Chief Brand Strategy Officer and author of the new marketing book “Storyscaping” at New York’s Internet Week to discuss the challenges of engaging today’s viewers in stories.
Consumers today expect more than just being told a story; they want to be part of it. This is where Epps and McColl’s brand strategy of “Storyscaping” comes in. The idea is to create an entire world, or never-ending story, around a brand. Whether experiencing the product through advertisement, social media or in person, the consumer can connect with the brand in the same way regardless of where they entered the story. Metro caught up with Epps and McColl to further explore their new brand strategy in a panel called “The Power of Stories Lived Versus Stories Told.”
Can you start by explaining the foundations of Storyscaping?
McColl: By bringing experience back to storytelling, it creates the engagement that fans want so they can get to a point where the brand becomes part of their story. That’s how we work as consumers. Everything is in service with our own personal story, so by taking the way that brands market, they can get into the consumer’s story through participation. Storyscaping is built on that foundation.
Omar, what was it about this brand strategy that made you want to get behind it as an investor?
Epps: Being friends [with McColl], we’ve had many conversations about how to advertise a market. I come from my side of the fence and he comes from his side, so for me to see the book come together, it all makes sense. It’s great because it’s a new challenge on both fronts of how to make the best of both worlds. I was able to take that information and go back into what I do on my side as a creator and come up with new ideas and give insight to creators around me to come up with new ideas in terms of the breadcrumb trail of what we do after we present the product and continue to tell the story.
How has the entertainment industry changed now that marketing is playing a greater role in Hollywood?
Epps: I don’t know if it’s something unique in terms of how the world has changed. I mean Coca Cola’s a marketing company. They don’t really sell soda, you know?
Right. They sell happiness.
Epps: Exactly. They sell happiness. I mean the bones of it have always been there but because there are so many different outlets and so many ways a consumer can interact with a product now, it goes beyond just going to a store and grabbing it off a shelf, and that’s where the game has changed. There’s no blunt formula to say this is the way you do it but your formula has to be like water – just move and flow with where the people go.
How do you intend to create this organic path of marketing?
McColl: What we talk about in the book is making sure that everything you think, do and share is true to your brand purpose. No matter what platform, panel or system you use, you’ve got to really anchor yourself to that purpose.
Epps: I actually thought Samsung did a great job with that Lebron campaign where they just had him hanging out with his kids, going to get a haircut. It’s normal like, “Oh yeah, I do that in life,” and “Oh, that’s a cool phone.” But it was a slice of his life and that’s telling a story.
Do you put a lot of time and thought into marketing yourself?
Epps: Yeah, I do because beyond the product that I present in terms of my art, my name and likeness is all I have. That’s where my worth is so I’m very aware of how my name and likeness are presented. I’m strategic where I need to be but I’m also not trying to be so calculated as to present it in a way that’s not me. This is the genuine me; this is who I am. But yeah, you have to be aware. I’m very strategic in terms of how I’m perceived but for what I can control. For things I can’t control, I just let it be and live life.
Are you trying to integrate Storyscaping into the show “Resurrection?”
Epps: I think there’s a potential to sort of tease the audience through the Storyscaping technique with things that relate to the show that are on the periphery so it’s not something we’re forcing or adding on to. It’s something that’s already there but then we can take that and play with it. But how we integrate it, I don’t know. It’s a fine balance because people want that escapism but still want that mystery so you can’t give them too much.
McColl: In reality, there’s already a Storyscape for Resurrection. As soon as they watch the trailer, there’s a world of content they can connect to. The fact that Omar has done live tweeting from the set is an interaction that gives a different dimension because it’s him, Omar, as opposed to Martin Bellamy. That, to me, is a concept of Storyscaping. Omar is not in Resurrection; Martin Bellamy is in Resurrection. But Omar Epps talking about Resurrection is Storyscaping because his storyline as an entrepreneur is totally different from the storyline of Resurrection but the two intersect.