Storyscaping Offers Good Advice Wrapped In Self-Promotion and Buzzword Bingo

It really has become quite the phenomenon for ad agencies to roll up their trademarked processes and new business presentations in full-length books. We get a strong whiff of that in Storyscaping: Stop Creating Ads, Start Creating Worlds by Gaston Legorburu and Darren McColl of SapientNitro.


At its core, Storyscaping is essentially an exhortation we’ve heard many times before: Brands and companies need to define their Purpose (it gets the capital ‘P’ treatment here) and then use that as the basis for developing stories that live in multiple media, because people respond to stories. It’s as simple as that. We get a few short case studies that serve as examples of Storyscaping, as well as the expected nods to brands like TOMS and Coca-Cola.

There’s little new here, and much of it is packaged with a generous helping of today’s marketing buzzwords. But buried within the book is a revealing look of how the agency used Ethnography to study people’s habits in their own environments, and the insights that can be developed with those techniques. I’d love to see this section expanded upon in the future, because for the most part, advertising agencies still give short shrift to actually doing qualitative research on consumers and rarely develop marketing campaigns that reflect those types of insights. And it’s the kind of thinking I believe marketers would value more than an agency’s supposedly proprietary process.

Legorburu and McColl do a fine job of selling SapientNitro’s Storyscaping philosophy. If you’re looking for a job there, or looking to hire the agency, this book is clearly a must-read to get a good sense of what to expect. Other than the ethnography discussion though, there’s little knowledge here that other marketing people haven’t already touched upon in their own self-promotional efforts. Storyscaping is only the latest variation on a very familiar story.

Special thanks to Wiley for providing me with a review copy.



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.