The Use of Storytelling in Content Marketing

It is almost impossible to study content marketing in any capacity without studying Red Bull and their approach to marketing. Red Bull has been described as this generation’s Nike, with many people saying that this description is valid. Their marketing campaign, which is primarily a series of videos, makes extensive and highly effective use of storytelling as a function of content marketing.

Storytelling in content marketing is, put simply, telling a story about a brand in order to make it stand out from the group, or to highlights its new and unique qualities as compared to previous lines from the same brand. The use of a story creates a hero for the viewer\prospect to root for and follow through the narrative, which may encourage prospects to become full clients, since they may find themselves identifying with that character enough to try to emulate him in whatever fashion.


Ford cars is, as previously mentioned, an interesting case as it seems to blur the lines between the content marketing I spoke about in my previous blog, and the specific niche of content marketing which is filled by storytelling. While Ford has been around and advertising for a long time, the new market provided by film and TV outlets has allowed them to expand their content marketing campaigns to incorporate a fuller storytelling aspect than ever before.

The 2014 Ford Mustang advert, for example, advertises the car and its various features by creating a storyline where its appearance and circumstances change in relation to the people who see it, namely a young fashionista, a chef, a cyclist and a little girl wearing a tutu. I have already analysed the advert from a purely content marketing direction in the preceding blogpost; here I am purely concerned with the storytelling aspects of the advert.

As already mentioned, the car, a Ford Mustang, changes its colour and speed (among other things) depending on which character in the storyline is looking at it – this is illustrated most plainly by the little girl at the end, who at first sees the car begin to change into what the audience might expect; a bright, fluffy seeming pink which matches the little girl’s tutu (and, it is implied, her aspirations) only to suddenly be enveloped in a puff of smoke and emerge as a sleek black machine, which shows the little girl dressed in an evening gown with puffy sleeves.

What is the purpose of putting the car in this story? The story functions as a vehicle to bring people closer to the car – showing the various colour schemes and abilities of a Ford Mustang in conjunction with different types of people is an effective way for Ford to show that the newest model of their car is for people from all walks of life; the inclusion of the little girl and the reveal of her perfect car being different to the one people would expect is an excellent addition on the part of Ford, implying as it does that the Ford Mustang will be there for people wherever their paths take them.

The marketing team behind Red bull have in effect created what is called long-form content marketing, which is creating a situation and following through on it (in this example, creating an athletic situation and then showing both the situation and the aftermath of it). By using this method of marketing, Red Bull has ensured that they meet their target market of the more active members of the 18-34 age group.

This particular approach to content marketing has the only explicit mention of Red Bull at the very end (normally the last four seconds) of the video, but on closer inspection there are plenty of implicit references to the drink to be picked up on by the audience at a later date; most notably the fact that the people in the advert achieved their goal because they were drinking Red Bull at the time.

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Arnt Eriksen

Arnt Eriksen

Executive Creative Director at Rethink, Content Curator, Global Keynote Speaker, Writer and Dad. Lover of music, marketing, innovation and design. The best of me is still hiding up my sleeve.