The advertising video ‘FRED! Horsepower.. There is a horse in the car!’ is designed by Sam van Dalen. He founded his own automobile company in Italian cars and has spent the last seven years designing, developing, and producing his own storytelling video’s for his company. His videos can be recognized as part of a series, but they’re also standouts on their own. A sequel to this video, starring the same Fiat Panda, was released recently. The video under consideration is one of his first national viral videos, which is still being shared. It was released on September 26th, 2018.
What striking is that he did not put the cars he sells in the spotlight, which is a returning segment in all his videos. The issue this video is primarily designed to address is brand awareness. And that is what he has gained and continues to gain with current videos. Various media platforms, such as adformatie, have picked up on the video(s) and written an article about it.
Because Sam van Dalen is active in the same industry as Haaima Hylkema and is an excellent example of how to use storytelling powerfully for your company, this can help Haaima Hylkema create valuable content for their own audience. The video is analyzed using theory about the Hero’s journey, as this links almost seamlessly with the story structure.
Storytelling is present in many aspects of life, assisting people in relating to one another and making sense of the world (Moin et al., 2020). Storytelling can be explored and utilized from several perspectives; for example, there are various principles and structures of stories that can be used (Moin et al., 2020). The emphasis in this article is on the story structure; the Hero’s Journey.
Moin et al. (2020) sets out the following three components formulated by Campbell in 1949. The three phases are described in the following order: “Departure (separation through the journey into the unknown world), initiation (a process of transformation) and returns (returning home as a transformed person)” (Moin et al. 2020).
According to Vogler (1998, pp. 21-28) Campbell’s Hero’s Journey of Campbell could be further defined, adding 12 stages to the three currently existing phases. The Hero’s Journey begins in the ‘Ordinary World’ (Stage 1), here the hero receives a ‘Call to Adventure’ in some way (Stage 2). The hero is first reluctant to leave their comfort zone, which is stage 3 ‘Refusal to call’. Then, in ‘Meeting with the Mentor’ (Stage 4), the hero is motivated to take a chance in ‘Crossing the Threshold’ (Stage 5) and then enters the unique world, where she/he faces ‘Tests, Allies, and Enemies’ (Stage 6). The hero then ‘Approaches the Inmost Cave’ (Stage 7) in preparation for a massive change, and goes through an ‘Ordeal’ (Stage 8) in which they undertake a big challenge. This finally supports the hero in achieving their ‘Reward’ (Stage 9) and returning to their normal life or ‘Road back’ (Stage 10). They are further converted through ‘Resurrection’ (Stage 11) and ‘Return with the Elixir’ (Stage 12) (Vogler, 1998 pp. 21-28).
Moin et al. (2020) has developed a framework for analyzing the various facets of storytelling in destination brand commercial stories. In this essay, the upper section ‘story structure’ is used, consisting of 3 phases and 12 stages of the hero’s journey.
What is striking when watching the video is that the ‘hero’ in the story is not performed from the customer’s perspective. Instead, his daughter and her pony play the lead role in the video, and can therefore be seen as the ‘hero’.
From the beginning of the video to 02.15, the hero, Do, is portrayed in her ‘Ordinary world’. Namely, selling cars at the company of her father, Sam van Dalen. During her performance review, flashbacks to her ordinary world can be seen, followed by a ‘call to adventure’, namely that she must leave her pony at home from now on. Do, the hero, agrees and it looks like she is bringing the pony home. However, here comes the ‘Refusal to call’, where it is humorously shown that she drove to the competitor, where she has her ‘Meeting with the mentor’. This is Alexander Sterk from Louwman, he persuades Do, that she and her pony are welcome at Louwman. This can be distinguished as ‘Crossing the Threshold’.
The initiation phase takes place from 02.15 to 03.15. When Do is about to sign a contract at Louwman, Alexander gets a call from Sam van Dalen which stops Do from signing. This can be defined as stage 6 ‘Tests, Allies, and Enemies’ (Stage 6). Stage 7 ‘Approaches the Inmost Cave’, is not (metaphorically) applied in the storyline in this video. She takes the call from her dad and Alexander asks her if she goes back to Sam van Dalen. She answers; “It’s still my father”, this can be defined as stage 8 the ‘Ordeal’. The ‘Reward’ she achieved, is taking her pony to ‘work’ and not having to leave him at home.
The return phase takes place from 03.15 till 03.35. Returning back to her normal life, ‘Road back’, is introduced by a scene of Do and her pony walking out of the Louwman dealership. In this shot, Alexander Sterk tears the contract up. Stage 11 ‘Resurrection’ and stage 12 ‘Return with the Elixir’ are not added in this video.
This video is a good example of applying the hero’s journey on a small scale. The right stages are executed in a powerful and humorous way. Although not all stages are used or added in this video, this does not detract from the power of the video. The goal of the video ‘brand awareness’ and that is what Sam van Dalen has gained and continues to gain with current videos. Various media platforms, such as adformatie and local media, have picked up on the video(s) and written articles about it.
Although the implementation of the various stages of the Hero’s Journey are not directly applicable to Haaima Hylkema, are these strong examples of how they could be applied. It shows that as a car dealer you don’t have to advertise directly about cars to create brand awareness. Without Sam van Dalen promoting even one car in this video, the viewer subconsciously knows which industry he is in.
Moin, S. M. A., Hosany, S., & O’Brien, J. (2020). Storytelling in destination brands’ promotional videos. Tourism Management Perspectives, 34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tmp.2020.100639
Sam van Dalen [Sam in de polder]. (2018, September 26). FRED! Horsepower.. Er zit een paard in de auto! [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sSjHBtHKic
Vogler, C. (1998). The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd Edition (2nd ed.). Michael Wiese Productions. http://enthuz.com/library/The%20Writers%20Journey_%20Mythic%20Structure%20for%20Writers,%202nd%20Edition%20(%20PDFDrive%20).pdf