When storytelling trumps statistics

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla | Updated on December 27, 2019 Published on December 27, 2019

Four Seasons’s Envoy programme gives a new spin to the concept by choosing content over followers

The tactile nature of paper art is perhaps more appealing than ever in today’s digital world. That is the impression one gets looking at Harikrishnan Panicker and Deepti Nair’s intricately crafted paper and light sculptures that tell compelling stories. Be it an exquisite underwater tapestry, tempting you to descend below the surface to a submerged world filled with life, colour and beauty, or a 3D sculpture inviting you to explore the strange beauty of a forest, each of their pieces bring to life a story. And it is for this very reason their multifaceted work, which looks more like lace than paper, bagged them the Four Seasons Envoys tag.


Hari and Deepti are the latest artistes to collaborate with the hospitality company as part of its Envoy by Four Seasons programme introduced last year to challenge the perception of influencers. The programme was born as a response to all the controversies surrounding influencer marketing, be it those defining themselves as influencers or the efficacy of the medium.

This was when Envoy was created — the intention being not to rely on social media statistics of follower countsbut, instead, focus on building meaningful connections with storytellers across all mediums. It would tap untapped artists whose primary focus would be spell-binding content creation.


Rising above the clutter

Peter Nowlan, Chief Marketing Officer, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, says consumers today are bombarded with messages and only a fraction of that makes a lasting impression or generates any action. With consumers scrolling through their social media feeds, it has become difficult for luxury brands to capture and retain their attention. Storytelling has emerged as a possible way to do this.

Rather than be mere spectators of a narrative, storytelling allows its audience the chance to become participants, interpreting the true meaning of the story in their own terms. While the fundamental values and principles of storytelling remain unchanged, how we tell stories is evolving, with digital redefining what makes a story compelling. Nowlan says there are now more ways than ever before of delivering content. Envoy is the brand’s response to the homogenised online experience and to break through the clutter. By going beyond follower count and by engaging passionate storytellers, the company is challenging what it truly means to influence, even as it elevates its social media creativity and taps into new perspectives and experiences. The result, says Nowlan, is truly differentiated content that showcases an authentic passion for travel and craftsmanship.

Artists Hari and Deepti were invited to Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo to experience pura vida, the Costa Rican approach to life: a laid-back, friendly attitude that pervades everyday interactions.


Brand experience

Their Envoy by Four Seasons experience became the inspiration behind their original work of art titled, A World within a World. The work will be displayed at Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo for guests to experience it first-hand. Given that storytelling is intrinsically linked to travel, Nowlan says it is a powerful way to form connections with people and places and a way to cut through the clutter of the crowded influencer marketing space.

“Through Envoy by Four Seasons, we hope to inspire and ignite an important conversation about quality content, authentic brand partnerships and storytelling, all of which we believe are the true markers of marketing success,” he says. Other Envoys include Marshall Davis Jones, a Spoken Word Artist who created a stirring poem inspired by his Envoy experience at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai in Hawaii and Missy Dunaway, an illustrator and artist whose colourful paintings told the story of her immersion in Vietnamese culture with Four Season Resort Nam Hai at Hoi An.

Nowlan says the name was chosen deliberately since “our Envoys are messengers of our brand, who embark on a journey inspired by Four Seasons and who make it their mission to provide a unique point of view in how they share their Four Seasons experience.”

The stories so created in collaboration with the Envoys are brought to life across a variety of mediums and art forms, with the resulting narratives shared via YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

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Published on December 27, 2019
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