What this year’s Cannes Festival of Creativity made quite clear is that a great case study has nothing to do with winning. It’s the story, not the “study,” that goes home with a coveted Lion.

So it’s time for us to reinvent the traditional “clinical” case study as a piece of compelling storytelling all its own. As content that easily could have been part of the campaign itself, not just “about” the campaign.

Stories are How We Remember

According to the London School of Economics, we retain 70 percent of information when told to us in the form of a story, but only 10 to 15 percent when conveyed through statistics.

Why? Because the neurons that fire when we’re listening to a story are the same ones that would fire if we were actually doing what’s happening in the story. And we remember things that we do.

Put more simply, our brains are hardwired to learn better, and retain more, if the words have meaning and emotion. Remember the time you heard that amazing case study full of facts and figures? Exactly. And neither does anyone else.

Case Stories, Not “Studies”

We can still relate the “facts” but in the form of a narrative, not as a lecture or rote regurgitation. Think of a movie trailer that leaves you breathless in anticipation of the film, or the book dust jacket synopsis that compels you to consume every page.

You don’t need to be a movie director or a noted author to pull this off – you just need to be human, to find the emotional core of the work and share it with the world as you would a trusted friend.

People want to be entertained, not interrupted. This is why we binge streaming shows and skip TV ads, because we want to get back to the story as quickly as possible.
We want content we can connect and engage with. We want content that’s relevant, emotional and, most of all, memorable.

Don’t push all that away the next time you need to create a case study. Who knows, you just might end up winning a Lion when all is said and done.

By: Gary Goldhammer