Here at stately Studer Manor, we dig conflict. Not in the sense that we like arguing about who exactly forgot to put the soap in the dishwasher, Someone Who Shall Remain Nameless, but in the literary sense. Without conflict? No narrative. Without narrative? No story. Just…stuff happening.
Having discussed the other three of the four main classical Western narrative conflicts — protagonist vs. society , protagonist vs. antagonist , and protagonist vs. self — it’s time to tackle:
Protagonist vs. Nature, ie: Captain Ahab Overly Invested In His Job And Hung Up On A Whale Which Is Totally Normal And Not At All Weird, Dude, But No I Don’t Want Your Number, Into The Wild, The Old Man And The Sea, Me Just Trying To BBQ Out Here Where Do All These Mosquitoes Even Come From?
This is a story of primal stuff. Sometimes you eat the bear. Sometimes the bear eats you. (Only not literally. Don’t eat bears. I’m pretty sure they’re endangered and that’s illegal.) But nature isn’t always red in tooth and claw. Sometimes nature is little fuzzy ducklings in a pond. So be careful with this one, y’all.
Why? Because despite folks continuing to debate climate change, we keep getting more green here in the US. In fact, according to the EPA, we’re recycling about 34.5% of solid stuff, and we’re making less garbage per person as well (though yikes, e-waste is a problem). It’s wise to tread with care on this one. Maybe don’t build an ad campaign around, say, using flamethrowers on bunnies. Just a thought.
Ah, but how can you use it? I can think of a couple of ways.
Nobody likes flies. Nuke those little jerks in your advertising all you like. And it would be clever to use a swarm of flies to symbolize, say, an information overload situation, and your product or service is the fly swatter to take care of all of those annoyances, letting your clients focus on what matters.
Fishing is another good choice. It requires good equipment, mm? And your company just so happens to provide the best around. Once they have what you’re selling, they can go after the salmon in that crystal stream.
Y’see where I’m going here? This is one of the great, ancient struggles. Just because you don’t have an ad in which you go full Jack London doesn’t mean you can’t use this classic conflict to your advantage.
It’s even easy to subvert. Loyal animal companions oughta do the trick, maybe a refreshing soft drink delivered via eagle? And don’t think you have to hire an animal trainer to make that work — it would be simple to create an animated dog, loyal and clever, to assist the hapless human. Tie that in with some clever cross-platform social tagging, and you’ve got a whole campaign strategy.
So there you have it. The Big Four. Help yourself. Mix and match. We can delve into variations and other sneaky tricks I have up my sleeve if you stick around, pal.