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Storytelling, Characters, and Content Marketing — It’s All Real

    Last Updated on March 10, 2024

    Waiting for the Future of Content

    When the sun finally came out this afternoon, I walked around campus and talked with Bridget Willard. It’s what I do. We have more than just a few clients and co-authored books in common. 

    The thought of the waning summer and the waxing autumn naturally led to discussing binge-worthy TV series. And those series we had already watched twice. Three times. Those series we missed. Those series meant something to us. You know the ones. Everybody has them.

    For me, it’s MadMen and Halt and Catch Fire, and in some ways Big Bang Theory, though Penny is now the drunk, tough, party girl I loved, just now in The Flight Attendant and that warms my heart. She didn’t leave me, she just moved to another job.

    The problem this old clown has, and thank you for walking over his long, clown, shoes, is that TV series end. They end but we continue. That isn’t at all fair.

    Artificial Intelligence can Give Immortality to the Characters We Love

    So, I got to thinking, as I do, as I walked the campus green, how unnecessary this all is. This ending. It was, in the past, out of necessity, that characters – actual actors mind you – die off over time in some of the longer-running tv series. Coronation Street or M*A*S*H to name but two. That needn’t happen anymore. We have AI. We have the ability to prolong life. Indefinitely.

    Characters we love – we identify with – we see as ourselves – can live forever. Series timelines can slow way down to mimic our real-time. Episodes and plotlines can be personalized so characters respond to our individual demands. Sure they can. Ever surfed the web? Do you think those ads you see are random?

    This is such a cool idea! I mean, we could sit, connected in virtual or enhanced reality with our favorite series characters. We could go to meetings with Don, party with Penny, cook Meth with Walter, or get in on the ground floor of the next startup with Nick and Izzy.

    The Technological Future of … Everything

    Netflix and Amazon are probably already developing this, so I don’t want to spoil their surprise. We’ve already seen Ready Player One and Surrogates. We all have our virtual life bitmojis, and we already feel somewhat lost when we’re not online. Why not be online – forever!?

    We know where this is going – at least for all of us unnecessary in the boardroom or on the telly. Wait. Did you think the lockdowns were random? Did you think working from home was an accident? Even the Tamagotchi craze had learnings. No?

    Virtual boyfriends and girlfriends? Pretty sure we have those covered, right? Wink Wink. AI-controlled sexual aids? We’ve got them too. Add universal income and the only thing we will need to keep us off the streets is … well I guess drone delivery of food and basics? Snap! Amazon to the rescue again!

    One of the Main Reasons We Love to Watch TV Shows is Empathy

    Well, I’m coming around the home stretch of my ten thousand steps. We’ve been preparing to be very connected but very much alone for some time now. Much of our lives are spent communicating with people on some type of social media channel. We can only hope that they are real. Though, does it matter? We think they’re real, and we’ve become very comfortable with them. Or with ourselves. We are very comfortable. Oh my. Perhaps this really is all just a simulation.

    What’s real is subjective. What’s real is personal. We want stories because we identify with them – real or not.

    So how can your brand afford to ignore this reality? The reality that we create and the reality that creates us? Art imitates life; brands give us art, meaning, and add to our identities.