Trends in creative storytelling in marketing and advertising

Creative storytelling is at the heart of marketing, to do it effectively here are a number of essential key trends to put at the centre of your strategy and approach
Storytelling logo and lightbulb

Studies have shown that brands can increase the value of their product or service by as much as 20 times by integrating creative storytelling into their marketing. For instance, the Significant Object Study, where Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn bought 200 items off eBay for $250 and asked writers to create a story around each of them.

They then sold them back on eBay with the story attached for over $8,000. A good example is an egg whisk that they bought for $0.25 and sold it for $30. Goes to show that Seth Godin was right when he said, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make but the stories you tell.”

Here are some key trends in creative storytelling in advertising and marketing for you to be put front and centre of your strategy.

1. Rise of digital content and branded content

No longer are you constrained by the 30-second TV advert. You can now have a much richer narrative consisting of a storyline, characters, plot and climax.

It’s certainly not uncommon for adverts to last three minutes and resemble a mini-series rather than an advert. So consider how you can use digital content in this way.

Here is an example from Pepsi called The Lesson which is a mini series. Interestingly, this also plays into the role of branded content that is finding its way into other communications and TV shows etc.

2. On-demand consumption

When creating a story, you can have a number of episodes or instalments online (say for example on your YouTube channel) at any given time. This allows people to immediately click on the next instalment of the content. It also creates longevity so you can benefit from the content you created for a long period of time.

3. Multi-channel sequencing

Another technique you can use is multi-channel sequencing, where different channels have different elements of the story and when combined creates the whole picture. Unlike, traditionally where channels were simply displaying the same thing, just in a different format, channels today have the ability to link different parts of the story together. This creates intrigue and makes your audience proactively seek out the next channel.

A good case in point is the way that has been able to maintain its storyline of the meerkat family for well over a decade. The success of the campaign has been partially due to the way it unfolds the story across different media. For instance, it first launched the campaign on TV and then used digital channels and even created physical toys to keep people engaged in the experience.

4. Discrete themed stories

You also have the ability (due to longer ad lengths) to create themed discrete stories. Rather than having a continued story across a time period, you can opt to have a themed story contained within one communication, which becomes highly shareable.

A good example of this comes from Chipotle which has created a range of these discrete themed stories, the most successful being one called ‘Back to the start’. This won it both industry awards and millions of views, shares and impressions.

5. Personalisation of stories

Finally, the more personalised you can make the story to the person watching it the better. There are three types of personalisation that you should consider.

The first is user-defined personalisation where your customer has the ability to tailor the story, characters and ending etc. For instance, O2 created a campaign during the Rugby World Cup called ‘Wear the Rose’ that allowed people to choose their own avatar and virtually play the games.

The second is behavioural personalisation where the creative approach adapts based on certain interactions by the customer. LinkedIn does this extremely well and tailors their messages based on prior interactions on their platform. Finally, there is tactical personalisation, otherwise known as ‘in the moment’ personalisation, which occurs as a one off and is usually attached to a wider ‘surprise and delight’ programme.

Have a think about how you can apply of these five key creative storytelling trends in your campaigns, and remember to relate them back the they key creative principles.

More from the School Of Marketing

Stay Connected

More Insights


(Are you a LEARNER looking to start an apprenticeship?) Follow this link:

(Are you an EMPLOYER looking to upskill your team members?) Follow this link:


If you have a question or would like to learn more about one of our services, head to our contact page and a member of our team will contact you as soon as possible.

If you would like to reach out to a specific member of our team, please use the button below.

Library of

Blended Learning Programmes

Online-Only Structured Programmes

The Giants Marketing Masterclass

Mentoring Programme​

Mentoring Overview