What the Olympics Teach Us About Storytelling

What the Olympics Teach Us About Storytelling


If you're anything like me, and much of the Speak team, you're pumped for the Olympics. 

Celebrate Lets Go GIF by Team USA

 The delay of the 2020 Olympics as a result of the pandemic was understandable but still disappointing. On the flip side, I can’t say I’m mad that now we're getting back-to-back summer and winter events.  

The marketing landscape during the Olympics is like an international version of the Super Bowl. High viewership is expected, and our screens are flooded with special content. And, much like during the Super Bowl, brands that air advertisements during the Olympics tend to bring out the big guns. It’s what leads to some of the most memorable commercials–the ones that make us laugh, the ones that manage to make us cry in under 3 minutes, the ones that inspire us and get us talking. 

The Olympics in and of itself solicits inspiration from viewers, so it's no surprise that many brands who advertise around the Olympics tap into this inspirational tone as well. And while many of us are anxiously following specific sports, athlete records, and national medal counts, it’s often the heartwarming stories that have the most lasting impact.

Did you see the Toyota commercial last summer that featured the story of Olympic swimmer Jessica Long? Toyota creatively depicted her journey from infant adoption to Olympic athlete in a narrative that replayed for weeks. 

ICYMI: Here's the video. 


The purpose of the ad was multifaceted – surfacing an unknown story of achievement, stirring up feelings of compassion and determination, and eliciting the shared pride that Americans have for the Olympics. Beyond celebrating Jessica and all U.S. Olympians, Toyota's hope in making that commercial was that the emotional appeal resulted in a lasting impression that will impact your next vehicle purchase. Who wouldn’t want to do business with a brand that is warmhearted, supportive, and patriotic? 

The rise from adversity to greatness is a common narrative, especially in sports. In fact, using storytelling in marketing in the way Toyota did to shape brand reputation is nothing new at all. But there are many other stories to be told and many ways to tell them. An organization doesn’t need to go as far as telling the inspiring story of an Olympic athlete’s rise to greatness to tell a story that inspires or excites. Emotional appeal is relevant to all emotions, not just the warmhearted, grab-a-tissue ones.

There’s plenty of research that shows consumers like to feel a human connection with the companies they align with. Tapping into human emotion on any side can help build trust and get away from the perception of only caring about pushing sales, sales, and more sales. Of course, everything a company does in its marketing efforts is to generate success in sales and improve brand reputation, but tapping into great narrative storytelling can go a long way in showing consumers your heart, and this, in turn, can generate business. 

So what stories does your brand have that your audience would love to hear? And how could those narratives tie into your mission and goals?

Leveraging these stories that come to mind could be the thing that connects with your audience in a new way and takes them from being an average customer to a loyal fan of your organization.

I truly believe every brand has a story. Whether it’s a milestone from your history to uncover, a special experience with a visitor, or a recent major accomplishment, we’d love to partner with you to share it! Check out highlights from some of our favorite stories in this video. And, if you're still in need of some tips on how to identify the right way to tell your story, be on the lookout for a future blog post from Speak's Agency Marketing Coordinator on Storytelling for Marketing 101. 

Need help? 

Not convinced you have a story worth telling? Try us! Our marketing experts are up for the challenge and would love to hear from you.

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Posted by Megan Jones at 10:08