A pioneering journey into collective storytelling – and Happiness.
If we could change the way stories are told — if we could create them together, as a large, connected collective — we could inspire a new, unique sense of happiness and satisfaction in the stories' contributors, globally, via their direct involvement in the storytelling process. When this idea was presented to The Coca-Cola Company, as a potential joint project, it clicked instantly. And it seemed like a perfect, serendipitous evolution of Coke's inspirational 1971 "Hilltop" spot, with its unforgettable song, that still echoes in our collective consciousness: "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing, in Perfect Harmony"....
We developed a plan — how to set up this group storytelling endeavor most effectively and make the beautiful seed of the idea blossom. The "seed" was a story outline McCann-Erickson had written, about a 16th century Austrian man named Willibald Wolfgang Xavier Godfrey — a sort of genius of all trades — who had devised a scientific/botanical way to create joy and inspiration in people at a time when great fear and conflict was spreading across Europe. The goal was to push the boundaries of classic narrative tradition by allowing other interested participants to expand on the story in different ways, using different art forms, skills, ideas, and platforms.
My writing, development, and production teams began filling out and refining the actual written story — the initial "seed" to be nourished by future contributors — and figuring out how to craft it, and its rollout, worldwide, to serve the overall purpose of the project. We are also plotting the structure, presentation, and practicality of project's essential interactive engagement component, its online soliciting of contributions, and the sharing and curating of those contributions.
One critical element of this work in progress — this "happiness project" — is that Coke wants it to be completely unbranded: Let's just do this because it's a good thing. So we are. Godfrey's Flower is to be a technologically innovative, communally connected, creative storytelling experiment, jointly curated by The Coca-Cola Company, McCann-Erickson, and Mirada.
Here is the "seed" of this collective storytelling experiment — the origin story itself, Godfrey's Flower