Is Marketing Storytelling? Part 2: The Importance of Theme

by , December 10, 2015
Is Marketing Storytelling? Part 2: The Importance of Theme

Any good story needs a compelling theme to tie the plot together and hold the audience’s attention. A captivating marketing campaign is no different.  The Business Dictionary defines a marketing theme as “a central, recurring idea or message that connects individual ads (comprising an advertising campaign) to produce a cumulative effect that is far greater than the total effect of the individual, disconnected ads.”

A marketing theme needs to remain consistent as a narrative thread that ties together ads across multiple platforms (i.e. mobile, print, email, etc.).  One of the most successful marketing themes of all time was Nike’s now ubiquitous refrain: “Just Do It”. What’s more, the slogan directly translated into financial success. In 1988, Nike sales were at $800 million. In 1998, sales were more than $9.2 billion.

“Just Do It” and the Nike swoosh are part of the same theme: action. The swoosh itself almost looks three dimensional and seems to be moving or rounding a curve. It is action. In fact, the word “swoosh” is evocative of the sound you here when a famous Nike spokesperson like Michael Jordan dribbles around a defender and soars in the air for a high-flying dunk. It is action.  The company name, Nike, pertains to the mythological Winged Goddess of Victory and she symbolizes flight, victory, and speed. Again, it is action.

The “Just Do It” slogan, which was integral to Nike’s legendary marketing campaign, is likewise meant to spur consumers to action – whether it’s to get up and exercise (wearing Nike apparel, of course), play a pick-up game of basketball, or run a marathon. In all of these instances, Nike tells its consumers to “Just Do It”.

The company’s marketing campaign was so successful because it was perfectly aligned with its products and brand identity.  In other words, Nike’s brand was also the theme of their successful marketing campaigns. Athletes, sometimes famous professionals, are seen kicking soccer balls, jumping through the air in slow motion as sweat falls of their face, and scoring goals in its commercials, print advertisements, Facebook ads, and even tweets.

The takeaway: a marketing theme must be related to a company’s products or brand in order to capture an audience’s attention and prompt them to make a purchase. So, as the Nike marketing campaign demonstrates, when thinking of marketing as storytelling, theme is indeed a crucial element.