Storytelling in Marketing

Holidays are coming, holidays are coming… – do you know this song? What picture appears in your mind after crooning this melody? Is it maybe…


From the Advert to the Symbol of Christmas

It’s the mid-90s of the last century when the American audience sees the very first Coca-Cola commercial with the participation of a bevvy of illuminated trucks, bringing Christmas to town. In the background, the viewers can hear the song Holidays are coming, singing by the choir. Three years later, the commercial is broadcasted in over one-hundred countries and its arrival to the TV is associated with the beginning of getting ready for Christmas for the millions of people around the world. In 2001 the brand runs a new campaign but it’s too late – it turns out that the original commercial is imprinted in the public’s mind for good. The change which marketers try to make apparently results in mass phone calls from the fans who ask for restoring the previous ad. Coca-Cola decides to follow the request of its fans and comes back with the new version of the song, Wonderful Dream (Holidays are coming), sung by Melanie Thornton. Over 20 years later Coca-Cola Christmas commercial conquers the hearts of the next generation and the trucks go beyond the TV, providing pre-holiday vibes in numerous cities around the whole world. Within these 20 years, Coca-Cola becomes something more than just a fizzy drink. It’s a brand behind which is heavily associated with a festive atmosphere. It becomes a symbol. Something real (the arrival of the trucks) that many of people are waiting for every year.

Storytelling – what is that?

Let me tell you a story…

The best offer! Only now… The lowest prices… The best on the market… We all know these slogans. And perhaps, we are all incredibly bored of them. Moreover, we don’t even pay attention to them. Storytelling is a strategy pursuing something else than just screaming the same overly regurgitated “mantra” to try to remind the user of the product. Speaking simply, it’s a technique of communication between a brand and a customer so that the recipient doesn’t’t feel that this is an advert. The goal of storytelling is making a long-lasting relationship with the potential customer and conveying them the values of a brand. It’s very possible that if you get your audience involved in your story, they will become your customers.

Why Storytelling Has the Edge Over the Traditional Advert?

The traditional advert pushily encourages us to buy. It makes us feel like objects that are only valuable if we take up an offer and buy something. It gives us a million “rational” reasons to get something, forcefully persuading us to buy the promoted product, badgering the customer with a consistent flow of persuasive and annoying language. On the other hand, the story draws real feelings, for instance, empathy, nostalgia, happiness or satisfaction. They appeal to our experiences, memories and desires. Thanks to this we can feel the connection with a brand because storytelling is just like a chat with a good friend. It says “yeah, I know how you’re feeling. Let me take care of you”. The story makes us less objective because it brings emotions into play. We start having affection, trust and perhaps we’ll remember the ad (and through this – the brand) for longer. 

The above example of Coca-Cola is a great reflection of what well-run narration can do. The soft drink has become the symbol of the closeness, mutual affection and time with people we love. When this neatly decorated truck arrives in our city, we ask our friends out and have fun together. When we hear in our TV little bells and heeeyyy yeaaah, we’re ready to sing holidays are coming. At this moment, we’re not thinking about the crazy amount of sugar or side effects of this drink. We just let the magic dry our tears and heal our heart 😉

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