Maybe that’s because the word evokes a familiar mystique — a nostalgia for the time when ads were so novel and slick that people accused them of hidden agendas and subliminal hijinks.
Maybe it’s because the “storytelling” conceit dresses up awkward truths about what it means to work as a creative in a commercial space, constantly defending matters of gut, jockeying for position as a representative member of “the least important most important thing there is,” in Don Draper’s succinct formulation.
Storytelling gives our jobs a coherence and a point: it ties together every subjective choice and asserts that their sum is greater than the parts. It dumbly gesticulates toward a unified field theory in which the brand exists in perfect harmony with the company it fronts — as well as all past and future marketing efforts. And it helpfully erases the fingerprints of creatives themselves: “telling a brand’s story” presupposes that some version of the story was always there, waiting to be plucked from the ether by a creative medium and midwifed into tangibility.