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6. Tragedy

Explore how the 'Tragedy' plot archetype can be used in commercial creativity using an example of D&AD awarded work from our archive.
While racial profiling keeps killing, society keeps looking away. To make everyone face the issue, international artist Usher launched the song “Chains”, to the first music video to demand your attention.
USHER: [SINGING] I’m a get mine. You should get yours too. Shooting, shooting, shooting. Men and boys always shoot. African dream, African men. Visitors to are compelled to look in the victims of brutality, and confront the shocking facts of each person’s story. Facial recognition software, activated through a webcam, stops the music if the viewer looks away. When we look into the eyes of the victims, you hear the song, and you begin to make a connection. And that empathy, that compassion, is what I hope to instill in America, to really address this issue. And if you turn away from it, then the video stops, and you’re saying, you have got to look at this video to really capture it all.
To fix it, we have to face it. Chain’s interactive experience caught the eyes of news outlets and cultural influences from more than 100 countries. Celebrities amplify the message and made this serious issue part of the world’s pop culture conversation. In only four days, the website got half a million visitors, spending an average of 2 minutes and 33 seconds. It earned 500 million global media impressions. “Don’t look away” became the centerpiece of a movement with concerts, social events, and conferences, committed to reveal and break the chains of social injustice.
USHER: [SINGING] You put the shame on us. We’re still in chains. We’re still in chains. We’re still in chains. We’re still in chains. We’re still in chains. We’re still in chains. We’re still in chains. You put the shame on us.
Disclaimer: Please note that this video contains shocking images and some strong language.
Don’t Look Away
Agency: AKQA / Client: Usher
Wood Pencil / Direct / 2016
You can watch the full video and activate the facial recognition here.
Tragedy Recap
While our other archetypes have seen triumphant heroes and slain monsters, this plot takes a different turn, and ends in loss or death.
Two Minute Task
While you’re watching the video, think about the following:
  • How do you think the interactive experience affects how the user feels? (We’ll be looking in more detail at interactive stories in Week 4)
  • What other examples can you think of that use this archetype?
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Storytelling in Advertising

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