I'm thinking about stories. Even after the hubub over Stefan Sagmeister's missive "You are Not a Storyteller" has died down. Not because I think advertising people or even most people should consider themselves storytellers. God no. No God, no. I think people claiming to be storytellers are just searching to make themselves feel better about whatever they actually do.
It also seems that so called "storytellers" don't have a clue of what makes a good story. They haven't studied the shapes of stories, or the structure of stories, or even the essential aspects of story. Rather they throw out these lovely tales about how things just keep getting better because x, y, and z. (X, Y, and Z usually being some set of circumstances brought on by a product.) They are usually stories without conflict, devoid of lessons, and only completely self serving. Which means they're bad stories. So even if these people who claim they are storyteller are storytellers they're bad storytellers at best.
As for advertising it's closer to sketch than storytelling. Because sketch is all about heightening until you reach a point where you can't heighten any more. There doesn't have to be an arc. No one has to learn anything. Hell, as long as you haven't wasted people's time it's a good sketch. There are nuances, yes, and sketch is traditionally comedy but I think there's a bit of humor in any good ad, even if that humor comes from the relatability of some situation.
I learned that lesson while working on a Claussen Pickles commercial. We'd sold this spot that was all about a penguin going to the refrigerated section to find Claussens. Rather than try to make that the best spot I possibly could by realizing it was a nice little trek by a funny animal I tried really, really hard (way too hard to be honest) to fit it into a story. It didn't need to be a story as much as it needed to be funny and adorable. that would have been enough. But in my desire to make a piece of advertising something it wasn't the whole thing crumbled in my hands. (An expensive lesson to learn on someone else's dime.)
So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I learned that trying to make something good (whatever that means) far outpaces trying to be something because you're insecure about what you actually are.