brand storytelling, politics and culture — January 31, 2016 at 1:50 pm

New “Together” Video Builds Upon Sanders’ “America”


Bernie Sanders’ campaign was just given a social media boost with the new Together video, which flows seamlessly from the compelling America video released last week and which I wrote about the other day.

Whether or not Together came from the Sanders campaign itself or was simply inspired by it is unclear. As of this writing, the video is not officially signed by the campaign and is hosted only on Vimeo.

That film director Jonathan Olinger may have been motivated to create such a powerful and strategic work on his own is nonetheless a testament to the strength of Sanders’ message and his growing movement.

As I did with the America, let me make a brief analysis why of Together works so well.

The Together Video Has a Central Strategic Idea

Like America, the Together video is built on a core idea:  We Are Together.

That it ties in so closely with last week’s spot, built on ‘We’ve All Gone To Look For America,” indicates that a coherent strategy is emerging.

Together Has a Unifying Structure That Follows From America

Structurally speaking, the video rests on a voice-over from a speech delivered by Sanders. It’s as if we’re hearing the speech he’s making at the end of America.

And in Together, we meet the people who comprised the central midpoint graphic in America.

The Together Video Moves Forward

Like America,the Together Video is split into two Acts. Act 1 serves presents a problem;  Act 2 resolves it.

Act 1

Overture:  Title Card:  Our Job is Not to Divide. Our Job Is To Bring People Together.

together video overture

Scene 1:  Series of extreme close-ups of the faces featured in America’s midpoint photo grid.together video scene 1

Scene 2: As the soundtrack says “divide,” we move to a series of head shots being literally torn apart, with different faces now making up the right and left sides of the image.together video scene 2

Visual Message: “They” are trying to divide us by our gender, racial and ethnic identities.

Scene 3:  Shots of single individuals torn down the middle. This is a brilliant move.together video scene 3

Visual Message: Not only should we not be divided against one another, we should not be divided against ourselves.

Scene 4:  Family-album shots of diverse american families.

together video scene 4

Visual Message: We should not be divided as groups. But more than than, we are not just individuals, but part of families, part of a society.

Halftime: Title Card:  “When We Stand Together…” This provides the turning point, and occurs at almost exactly the midpoint of the film. Now we will move from the problem set up in Act 1 to its resolution in Act 2.

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 2.26.02 PM

Act 2

Now it’s time to resolve the problem.  As in America, this act is simpler than Act 1, and is comprised of one main scene to achieve that end.

Scene 1: The head shots that were torn apart in Act 1 now come together. It’s like a mirror image of what we saw earlier, interpreted in a whole new way. Whereas the earlier split images denoted division, these split images denote communion.

together video act 2

And to add visual interest and rhythm, the camera slowly moves closer in to these images and then pulls out again in a kind of inhale/exhale that leads to the final scene, or coda.

Coda: We finally meet Bernie in a real stadium setting, speaking to real people and reinforcing the main idea: Bringing People Together.

together video coda


In Strong Storytelling All Of The Elements Work Together

As I mentioned last time, the reason I look at a video like this in such detail is to learn, and to share with you, why it is that it’s so effective.

As in all great storytelling, the Together video is remarkably efficient. There’s a simple unifying idea and all the elements are structured to support it. Nothing is superfluous.

This overriding sense of purpose and intention and commitment is what ultimately moves us.

So if you’re at all interested in improving your own storytelling, whether it’s for business or art or politics, find stories in any medium that turn you on. Analyze these stories. Try to figure out how they work, what it is you like in them and what makes you feel the way you do.

Then bring what you’ve learned into your own work.

You’ll quickly find your stories are engaging people in a way you might never have before imagined.

Learn how to tell a better story.  Check out our storytelling seminars and workshops.

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