Spikes Asia 2016
Advertising Meets Hollywood: Adrian Grenier On Storytelling

Adrian Grenier admits that there are shades of Vincent Chase in him. The rebellious, nonchalant side of the actor is what he says endeared him to the producers of the hit HBO series, ‘Entourage’, and pushed them to cast him as Hollywood movie star Vincent Chase. It was a role that would ironically turn out to be the springboard that would catapult Grenier into the real-life Hollywood limelight.

Though he’s not only an actor. As Gordon Bowen of mcgarrybowen says, there aren’t many people who have Grenier’s credentials; an entertainer, a director, an actor, a filmmaker, a philanthropist, and a passionate social advocate.

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“So there’s a whale” Grenier explains, “he’s a real creature that migrates up and down the Pacific coast in America. He’s a unique creature because he speaks at a different frequency to all the rest… and as a social species he’s calling out, looking for companionship but because he is speaking a different language he never receives a response. We can imagine that he must be a little bit lonely.” It’s a story that Grenier picked as an allegory to the human condition and to illustrate our disconnect from the world around us, in particular the ocean. It’s a passion of his because as he sees it, the ocean is part of our world that is, environmentally speaking, largely considered ‘out of sight, out of mind’. He chose to tell the story of the lonely whale’s plight because it emotionally connects the audience to a vast and otherwise impersonal environmental body.

That connection with the audience is what Gordon Bowen is looking for as well. “We want to communicate with that singular consumer, we want to make a connection amidst an assault of media.” So Grenier shared a few key tips on his creative ways to connect with an audience:

  • In order to break out and make an impression on your audience the artist behind any piece has to be open and sensitive to what’s happening in the world. There seems to be a trend in advertising where you see a lot of comedy and broad characters and at some point we’re going to need to contrast that with a little more depth and poignancy. Try to connect with people through their hearts and empathy. People let their hearts convince their heads. If you can get people to open up and be a little bit vulnerable, they’ll be with you for the long journey.
  • You have to be willing to be vulnerable. In acting you give the audience the opportunity to live vicariously through your experience and the more authentic you are the better actor you are, and the more vulnerable you are, the more authentic you can be. The same goes with film, it’s just a different process where the vehicle isn’t you it’s your piece. It has to have the same truth and honesty.
  • Try to remember the big picture. It’s not each word or each sentence, it’s the whole story that engages an audience. It’s not just about getting them into a seat it’s about keeping them till the credits. Being an independent autonomous filmmaker artist I also have to employ the rules of advertising to get people to come buy my movie or engage with the content. In advertising “likes don’t mean swipes”, which also translates to philanthropy in so far as how do I get people to do something not just say they care. The answer lies in the long term affinity of engagement. If the customer doesn’t engage the first time, keep them coming back, keep them engaged and eventually there will be a crossover.
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