Storytelling, Freytag Pyramid & how UpGrad & Big B nailed it.

The latest UpGrad digital film titled, ‘Why is BIG B so angry?’ plays out the Freytag pyramid to near perfection (kudos to the agency, The Womb Communication). Note, 3 weeks on YT, and the film has racked up 7+ million views. The film works because it glides up and down the Freytag Pyramid Acts with aplomb. Here’s how it does it, and elicits the right neurological responses from its viewers –

Act 1 – EXPOSITION (inciting moment) – 0.00 – 0.15 – Fictional elements are introduced – the characters, setting, conflict; i.e., the world in which the story is going to unfold. Big B makes his angry entrance into the UpGrad office!

Act 2 – COMPLICATION (rising action) – 0.16 – 0.58 - The plot thickens. Things get worse and the main character’s emotions and actions sink in further. The viewer takes in the magnitude of the rage being dished out. Big B continues his destructive rampage in the UpGrad office.

NEUROLOGICAL RESPONSE – Viewer brains are producing the stress hormone Cortisol. This allows them to focus on the story playing out without distractions.

Act 3 – CLIMAX (turning point) – 0.59 – 1.29 - The ‘turning point’ of the story. It’s the unravelling point at which the main theme is about to emerge. That of the ‘study abroad program’. Big B introduces the value proposition at this point. The reason for Big B’s rage is now dawning on the viewer. Big B manhandles the single guy at his desk for ‘good reason’.

Act 4 – REVERSAL (falling action) – 1.30 – 1.50 - This is the push towards resolution. The hardest part of the story as the chances of ‘losing’ the viewer is the highest at this point. The elements of story are coming together in a ‘feel-good’ manner. Big B responds well to the 2nd office guy and now puts his arms around both of them satisfied with his ‘chances of going abroad’.

NEUROLOGICAL RESPONSE –The feel-good chemical Oxytocin is now being released. It prompts viewers to connect and exhibit empathy.  

Act 5 – DENOUEMENT (moment of release) – 1.51 – 2.13 - The story moves towards conclusion. The narrative takes the viewer to a resolution. The story is now finding closure. However, the ending is also prompting the viewer to keep thinking about the proposition the story brought to light, that of studying abroad. Big and the 2 office guys tell viewers about the program and its benefits.

NEUROLOGICAL RESPONSE – The limbic system is triggered and the brain’s reward center releases dopamine. Viewers feel optimistic and hopeful.

Now that’s storytelling at its near best! 


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