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GameSpot - Heinous Face

What made this spot so good? GameSpot “Doom Poster” - The Richards Group. This is the sixth in a series of articles where I deconstruct examples of excellent storytelling in contemporary advertising.

GameStop is a chain retailer offering new & used video games, plus consoles, controllers & related gear. Headquartered in Grapevine, Texas, and operates 7,117 retail stores throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe.

The Richards Group clearly understands the demographic they’re targeting. Gamers love having fun right? The creative team decided to take one of Doom’s fictitious sci-fi characters and place it into a retail store. The story starts with the mundane task of fixing a giant hole in the wall. The pain point: Incentivize Doom fans with a double-sided poster giveaway with any pre-orders of the game. The solution: Invent a humorous scenario where a double-sided poster could go horribly wrong.

Goal, action, complication, resolution

Two GameStop employees are confronted with a complication. They’re trying to hide a basketball sized hole in the wall by putting up a shelf, but it’s just not working. So they have another idea: The new goal is to cover it up with a Doom poster. When they staple it (action) to the wall, it seems to work. For a second.

But when they hear the muffled sound of screaming people coming from the other side of the wall, this creates a new complication.

We cut to see that there’s a dentist office next door where the dentist, hygienist, and patient are horrified to see the Doom character’s heinous face staring back at them through the hole. The element of surprise, while not in my top four, is another great tool to use in our storytelling toolbox.

There's not much in way of resolution except for a comical ending of the poor patient's mouth being abused because of the distraction.

I don’t believe in writer’s block, but I know we can all hit a wall with our writing. Next time you do, run through this checklist. Goal, action, complication, resolution. I have these four words written in the corner of my office chalk board. They stare down at me all day long as if they’re saying, ‘I’m right here when you need me.’

Tom's Press Play Test

The best way to see if an idea is landing is to test it. It’s easy to pitch an idea to your creative team when you can stand up and act your way through it with funny voices and props. But is the idea good enough without you there to talk it through? I draw out every story beat using stick figures, throw them in a timeline, record scratch voices and edit it down in Final Cut Pro. This animatic has to pass my ‘press play test!’

I fire off a link to this video to someone who has no clue of what I’m up to. Even better if this test audience is only tangentially in the creative business. I ask just one question: “Do you get it?” If it passes this test, I know I’m on to something with potential. Your turn! What’s your creative process? How do you test ideas before you get into production? Let us know in the comments.

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