Water stories

“My name is Jurgen Schmidt and I am 91 years old. I am a master swimmer.”

This is the start of one of 17 short, inspiring stories of aquatic lovers that are showcased on Fueled By Water, Speedo’s amazing new website. If you love all things aquatic and are in for a good story, you are going to love this.

Stories – Not Branding

Fuelled By Water is not a commercial stunt about Speedo, but an ode to water and a tribute to people’s deep love for the liquid world. On the site you will find a varied collection of people, ranging from a swimmer in his nineties who is still breaking world records, to a body surfer gliding down walls of water, to a group of friends who challenge the open ocean every day. Their stories are universal tales of friendship and hardship, of long hours spent together training or watching the shore preparing to make a critical rescue.

Arresting visuals

What makes these stories unique is the breathtakingly beautiful shots that accompany them. Everything on the site is driven by videos of the liquid world, even the navigation menu. Hardly any text, just water everywhere. My favourite part? The “Share Your Story” section, a curated collection of micro-stories around the theme ‘love for water’, shared by fans on Twitter and Instagram using the #fueledbywater hashtag.

“There is another world, where we can break world records in our nineties. We’ll meet you there.”

Disclaimer: I am a swimmer, water-polo player, deep-diver, professional SCUBA diver and water addict. How could I possibly not love this?


Be authentic, not just polished. 

The power of images lies in their ability to tell stories and evoke emotions. We want emotions because without them there cannot be an action or change in behavior. Therefore, the kind of image we choose for our story is critical to the success of our presentation. 

When it comes to visuals, authenticity is one of the most important aspects to take into consideration. Gone are the days of classic corporate imagery, the smiling businessman in jacket and tie, the perfect-looking model, the rosy baby. It is not just about how polished an image is, it needs to feel real, credible, authentic, something our audiences can relate to.

A clear example of this is the recent trend towards more realistic women in advertising. Brands are increasingly moving away from polished idealizations of the feminine in favor of more authentic images of real women. 

Getty Images’ Pam Grossman has some very interesting and beautiful insights to share on authenticity.

Read more on images.

What children can teach us about presentations

When it comes to storytelling, children are the undisputed experts. Children simply love stories and instinctively understand what makes a good story. You’d be surprised how much they can teach you about the subject if you just asked them.

The other day, I took my eight-year-old daughter to the bookstore to buy her a present. I found a new edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which attracted my attention with its many gorgeous illustrations. I showed her the book, only to find out she was not impressed. I thought it was a really beautiful book, didn’t she like the illustrations? “Dad, that’s exactly the problem” she said, sounding like she was explaining the obvious. “With all those nice drawings, I won’t be able to concentrate on you when you read the story.”

I’ll try to remember that next time I am preparing my slides for a presentation.

BTW: Denslow’s (1856-1919) original illustrations of the first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are wonderful, indeed.

This is not a film review

Yesterday I had a remarkable experience. It started when I went to see Gravity, by all means a phenomenal movie. The structure of the story is classic, change the scenary and you get Red Riding Hood. Unexperienced space girl Sandra Bullock is sent on a dangerous mission (the magic voice of Ed Harris speaks from Houston), hell breaks loose and when all hope seems lost, space veteran George Clooney comes to the rescue and shows her the way home. It is the special combination of images and sound that makes viewing this film an unforgettable physical and emotional experience. Outer-space darkness and silence are alternated with crashing metal at brain-assaulting sound level, challenging the senses and sending heads spinning.

After a good night’s sleep I felt ready for more inspiration and visited an exhibition of Kazimir Malevich (1887-1935), one of the pioneers and founders of abstract art in Russia. The exhibition is one of the most important and comprehensive ever, and I don’t need to tell you that his work feels just as innovative and powerful today as it did 100 years ago. And this is when it happened. While I was walking along these incredible paintings, I realized that everything Gravity is about had already been painted almost one century earlier: black emptiness staring at us and challenging our sanity; man-made shapes hanging in a silent, endless space; and then the flying metal that will crash the life out of our bodies. 

There was no sound, but Malevich did not need it to send us traveling through time and space.

Read here more on movies.