Johan Berger's 'Contagious' features an excellent chapter on brands using stories to push out their message. He says that the most successful ads create a narrative which resonates with the target audience.
The section investigates how we communicate with each other in and how we recall information when we recall an event in conversation; what details we include and what details we throw away. He writes:
'People don't think in terms of information. They think in narratives. But while people focus on the story itself, information comes along for the ride.
'Make sure the information you want people to remember and transmit is crucial to the narrative.'
The Nike slogan, 'Just Do It', turned 25 years old this week; three words which have set the tone for the company's marketing for the past quarter century.
Football. Running. Cycling. You can achieve anything you put your mind to.
Nike are great story tellers. Below are two adverts from the Olympics. Both tell fantastic tales with the brand at the core. Find your greatness.
But Nike is clever. It doesn't just want us to share these stores online; it wants us to create our own.*
The Nike+ app records everything about a jog.
The weather, the friends we went running with, how good it felt, what shoes we were wearing. The little kernels of information we use to create a a story.
The app makes it easy to share these stories on Twitter and Facebook. It allows us to be our own narrator.
I set a goal to run 70km in 2 weeks - @nikeplus http://t.co/7BLkTZbh Just ran 4.6km #maratonadorio2012
— Raul Veiga (@raulveiga) February 20, 2012
Ran 13.6km with a pace of 6'43" with Nike+ iPod. My first long run with the #RunningRoom. #nikeplus: http://t.co/q40mgpo8
— Alexandra Gunn (@alexandragunn) August 12, 2012
Getting faster on my miles! Completed a mile in 9:54!! I just ran 2.34 mi with Nike+. http://t.co/sNeX4J4pSv #nikeplus
— Ness Heaton (@vannieheat) July 18, 2013
Not bad on 4 hours sleep! I just ran 4.53 mi @ a 10'48"/mi pace with Nike+. http://t.co/X2gFHOO6gR #nikeplusThese user-generated stories communicate the ethos of the Nike brand better than any advertising campaign ever could. Imagine the conversations after each run:
— David Kaufer (@DavidKaufer) July 16, 2013
'Let me show you how my training for the marathon is going.'
'Even though the temperature was ridiculous, I did a 10km run.'
'I ran my quickest mile yesterday.'**
The brand is an integral part of the stories we share.
*See also the Coca-Cola 'share a bottle' campaign.
**The app also awards medals for completing certain tasks (running twice in a week, for instance), giving users another incentive to talk about their achievements.