ANA Annual Meeting 2016

How Storytelling Training Helped Georgia-Pacific Build Sales Without Boosting Budgets

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As chief marketing officer of Koch Industries' Georgia-Pacific Corp., Douwe Bergsma has brought on Droga5, Deutsch, Cutwater, the Martin Agency and most recently VaynerMedia to rework the marketing across eight brands.

But along with that, he's taught his entire marketing department about storytelling with the help of Character LLC in a process that includes improv training. In a talk to the Association of National Advertisers Masters of Marketing Conference in Orlando on Friday, Mr. Bergsma said that's helped his brands grow sales and share despite not boosting spending -- and getting outspent by the likes of Procter & Gamble Co. and Kimberly-Clark Corp.

Among other things, his marketers have learned that good stories frequently involve conflict – something that the brand has worked into the narrative around Brawny's "Stay Giant" campaign from Cutwater, which is about personifying the brand's inner contradiction about being both tough and gentle.

In a video interview with Advertising Age, Mr. Bergsma talked about why storytelling training is important for marketers, and how the approach has played out for Brawny.