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The Story in Branding | #8 The Inciting Incident



Robert McKee: “The INCITING INCIDENT radically upsets the balance of forces in the protagonist’s life”. The inciting incident is quite similar to one of the big marcom words of the last couple years: Disruption.


We are not a big fan of that word. Not because we don’t believe in it, but because the hype and the expectations around it are often unrealistic. Often it’s just a way of saying “I want to spend less money, but still expect the same guaranteed result.”


We do believe in Inciting Incidents. When they are well thought about and thought through.

McKee says: “As a story begins, the protoganist is living a life that’s more or less in balance.” The category is in relative control. The inciting incident is used to disturb this control. In the case of brands ideally in a positive way.


Adidas used Pharell and Kanye West as inciting incidents to temporarily take over the #1 position from Nike (being the forever #2). Virgin is a classic inciting incident brand (flying for everyone) and so is Dutch unicorn Adyen (safe worldwide payment services for ecommerce parties such as Takeaway, Uber, AirBnB, Dropbox and many more). In media - quite a while ago - digital has been the inciting incident, print, TV and radio suffered from (although those oldies are starting the resurface again thanks to data and people such as Ritson, Sharp, Field and Binet). Within social you could also argue Snapchat has been the inciting incident, that made Zuckerberg wake up and evolve Instagram in a similar direction.


All of these inciting incidents have been well thought through.


McKee ends: “In most cases, the Inciting Incident is a single event that either happens directly to the protagonist or is caused by the protagonist. The protagonist must react to the Inciting Incident.” [P+C: to survive anyway]



Storytelling has been hyped and booed off stage. We don’t really like either extreme. We simply value storytelling as a proven set of principles (not rules) to excite and entice an audience, build a brand and create great work. Nobody describes storytelling better than Robert McKee. That’s why we decided to take you with us on a journey, describing and capturing what we can learn from storytelling and its principles. We’ll start with a quote or excerpt from aforementioned book and illustrate the essence through a marketing example.



We will help you achieve Growth for Good by getting to the core of your brand, (re)shaping it, and connecting it to your audience. Peas+Carrots

Feel free to contact us via elmer@peascarrots.com or wilmar@peas-carrots.com or visit www.peas-carrots.com



#Pharrell #PharrellWilliams #Nike #Adidas #Uber #Airbnb #Dropbox #Kanye #KanyeWest #Storytelling #RobertMcKee #McKee #IncitingIncident

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