Pip Decks

Rolls Royce Moment

From Episode 8 of the weekly Storyteller Tactics episodes

Each week we release a new story and two Storyteller Tactics cards from the deck, launching on Kickstarter later this year.

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What is the Rolls Royce Moment tactic?

"Cruising at 60mph, the loudest noise inside the Rolls Royce comes from the electric clock."

Rolls Royce ran an advert with this headline in a US magazine in 1960. Next year, Ford spent millions on an ad campaign promising cars "as quiet as a Rolls Royce." In 1980, my dad told me the Rolls Royce story - and I still remember it today. Why was this ad so memorable and how can your story have a Rolls Royce moment?

How to use the Rolls Royce Moment tactic

David Ogilvy, the British advertising genius, wrote the ticking clock headline for Rolls Royce after spending days trawling through engineers' reports. His lesson for storytellers: do your homework. You have to know your project inside out if you're going to find moments like this. Here's why the advert worked:

1. It's a vivid moment. In just a few words, Ogilvy gave us a rich, sensory movie we could play in our heads.

  • What's the vivid moment you can describe, something we can hear, see, taste, smell or feel? 
  • Write down as many possible moments as you can; for you as designers, for you users. What happens? How does if feel?

2. It's exemplary. This one small moment stands for the whole. It tells us that Rolls is a precision engineering company that pays attention to details.

  • What's the single fact or detail that tells us everything we need to know about your product?
  • Write as many possible options as you can. 

3. It's widely relatable. I've never driven in a Rolls, but I can tell you my Talbot Horizon (1992-1994) made a hell of a racket cruising at 60mph. So I can imagine how good Rolls Royce quality feels.

  • How can you make your Rolls Royce moment relatable to something your audience will understand?


Credit: David Ogilvy, 1983

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