A Hero’s Breakfast

The experts behind the curtains of the internet articles and magazine covers have been telling us for a long time just how important breakfast can be.   It has something to do with metabolism and science and things I know very little about.  But it turns out breakfast might also be a critical element in storytelling and communicating.

Colum McCann, one of my favorite novelists, just published a short book called Letters to a Young Writer. It’s an ode to Rainier Marie Rilke’s famous Letters to a Young Poet. (I say “famous” because it was featured in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit but I’m sure it’s famous for other reasons too.)  McCann’s book is filled up with wisdom and if words are a part of your life at all, it’s worth your time.

I just keep thinking about this line from his chapter/letter on character development:

“In the end you should probably know your characters as well as you know yourself.  Not only what they had for breakfast this morning, but what they wanted to have for breakfast.”

If you’ve spent any time with us at Rebel Pilgrim, you know we are all about hero-centric marketing.  We believe companies and organizations need to see the crowds they are trying to reach as heroes.  They also need to know their heroes well, their pain, their motivations, their desires.  McCann’s line highlights this in a beautiful way.

If there is a crowd you want to serve, can you answer what they do for breakfast and what it might reveal?  (I’m imagining an online quiz where you answer 10 questions about what you eat for breakfast and it tells you what character you are from Jane Austen novels.  If it’s not out there, it should be.)

-Are they cereal people who drink the milk at the end?

-Are they people of habit who eat the same bagels and drink the same coffee every day?

-Do they slow things down for eggs and bacon and a side of extravagance?

More importantly, are there truths hiding behind their breakfast choices, or their secret breakfast hopes?

-Do they secretly want to toss aside the whole grain toast and eat both strawberry pop-tarts?

-Do they eat their Cocoa Puffs with a side of shame, sensing that they should go for something that is actually food?

-What if they skip breakfast?  Do they always go against conventional reasoning?  Why are they rushing and where are they going?

-Do they drink their freshly squeezed orange juice after their morning run in a high-rise apartment all the while imagining themselves around a cozy kitchen table with cinnamon rolls?  Or vice versa?

When we are trying to empower heroes, it’s not just about what they wear and what they eat, but about the pains and hopes they are hiding underneath the exteriors.  It’s about the pancakes, but it’s also about the dream of the waffles.

Rebel Pilgrim is a creative agency based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Rebel Pilgrim believes that story is the only way to spark change and create excitement for any business or product. Start converting your uninterested crowds into engaged clients using the power of storytelling.