The storytelling masterclass: Four brands getting it right

Many of the most successful brands in the world use storytelling as part of the way in which they sell themselves. 

Advertising campaigns can form an important part of this strategy. Campaigns that engage the public’s imagination mean that the advert is talked about. The product is almost subliminal to the message (for the audience at least). That is a company dream; those stand-out ads can make a lasting impact and stay in peoples’ memories for a long time.

Which ads do you recall?

Here are some examples of how stories have been told that take the viewer outside themselves, often stirring emotion.

Weight Watchers - Awaken Your Incredible

This one and a half minute ad starts off with a baby girl growing up, falling in and out of love, then shows a series of scenes depicting challenges that have been overcome. 

The philosophy was based on the idea that we have each already shown how we are more capable than we think we are if we recall how we've surmounted life’s challenges. BMF Sydney create the campaign; a heart warming story of how people came to believe in themselves. It helps people remember that they can have a more conscious lifestyle by calling on their inner warrior. Of course Weight Watchers would be the brand they associate with starting the work of feeling better about themselves!

Guinness - Wheelchair Basketball Commercial

Guinness made an ad just over a minute long that is also moving. The commercial features a group of wheelchair basketball users. As they play, above the music soundtrack we hear the words “Dedication, loyalty, friendship,” said at regular intervals on the beat. At the end, all the men apart from one get up out of their wheelchairs but they all exit the court together, showing that they chose to play as a team. 

The scene switches to a bar where Guinness is being served. The voiceover then says, “The choices we make reveal the true nature of our territory.”

It’s smart. The message is that drinking this beer is linked with making higher decisions.

Google - Reunion

South Asians like space to tell their stories, so this ad is just over three and a half minutes long. It’s a tear jerker. A Hindi-speaking elderly man tells his granddaughter all about his best friend who is now in Pakistan. He longs to meet him again. (The two countries had been traumatically created from one in 1947). 

The girl quietly uses Google to track the Urdu-speaking old friend down to a sweet shop across the border. She gets through, and speaks to his grandson. He connects her to his grandfather. The grandson uses Google to research Indian visas and the weather in Delhi where the old Indian lives. The two friends finally reunite, watched by their respective granddaughter and grandson. (Is there a future romance on the horizon?)

A traditional story that demonstrates how Google can bring heartfelt wishes to life.

Nike - The Chance

The setting is New York City for this commercial that is just over a minute long. It shows how inspirational stories can be told in a tiny time frame.

The lighting starts off ambient and gradually changes to daylight. This tastefully filmed ad opens with a hooded youngster wearing a tracksuit and backpack walking away from the camera. 

Then the scene switches to Spike Lee saying, “Drive is the fuel that makes you want to succeed.”

The ad switches back and forth between the young man doing various things connected to a soccer playing aspiration (tying his trainer shoelaces, looking at a photo, relaxing with his soccer playing friends) and Spike Lee looking into the camera as he says the lines at regular intervals:

“If you’re dedicated to your craft that’s going to permeate your entire being.”

“When you have drive, you have a goal.”

“When you’re focussed you’re not going to do anything to hinder what that goal is.”

And finally, “That’s what drive is for me. It’s the fuel.”

Along the way, we catch glimpses of a distinctive red shoe logo on a snow white trainer and other familiar designs. The powerful message using two iconic brands, Nike and Spike Lee: you can catch your dreams wearing Nikes. 

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. 

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