How to make $50bn a year through storytelling?

As our last article about  5 rules of great Storytelling has fantastic feedback, I decided to expand the story a bit more. Storytelling is very important in sports industry. Nike, Under Armour and Adidas supported this claim with big investments.

Why do stories even matter? Stories matter because we, human beings, are hardwired to receive information and transmit information as stories. Brain scientists say that, by telling stories, we are actually telling ourselves who we are. By storytelling, we make sense of the world.

If people can’t remember what you said, they can’t take action, so you must create a story! If you think more deeply about it, you will remember something if you tell yourself story about it!

Great Brands are like Great Stories. Every great story has a beginning, middle and the end. Our job is to make sure that every chapter of our stories makes sense with one in front of it and make sense with one after it.”Kevin Plank, Under Armour

Sports apparel market revenue predictions (Billion $)

Number of ads we see per day!

I would like to divide storytelling strategies in two separate parts. I separated them in stories focused on the other athletes, and the stories focused on the regular people. I will try to show you this through some examples, and when you start your own campaign, try to focus on one of these two segments.

What I am talking about?

I know this might not be completely clear to you so I will try to show you with a few examples. The best way to learn about something is by looking at examples, and because of it, I love examples! First example is the ‘fresh’ Under Armour ad with Michael Phelps.

With this ad, they are communicating directly to other athletes that live that same life, every single day. How? He get’s up every morning like other athletes, he shares his frustrations, celebrations, pains, gains and other things like every other athlete in the world.

They showed to other athletes that he is also a human being, and he is also going trough difficult times like they are. This is big motivation for athletes who are watching it, because they see that they can also do this. And if they like the story, if they like Michael, they will probably try to buy Under Armour equipment. Because, after this ad, he is a role model for most of them, so what he is wearing, they will want to wear it as well.  

Of course, this ad will have some impact on your average Joe as well. Why? Because everybody wants to be like their favorite athlete, everybody wants to have a role model. However, as I said, the best effect will be on the other athletes! 


Ad message:

It’s what you do in the dark, that puts you in the light.

#RuleYourself #IWILL


1. Challenge

2. Game

3. Doubt and suffering

4. Faith in yourself

5. Win

Read more about it here.

There is one great example from Nike storytelling that is focused on the regular people! Nike wanted to show them that they’re not alone, they wanted to show them there are many people like them, and these people maybe gave up just like them after a day, week or month…

In the ad below, you can see in which way they go into the mind of the regular people: “…greatness is a gift reserved for a chosen few for prodigies, for superstars, and the rest of us can only stand by watching.”

First, they think in a way most of regular people think, “this is not for me”. After that, they told them clearly, “You can forget that!” With an even better message: “We are all capable of it, all of us.”

During this ad, you can see a fat boy that is running and the people who watched this probably thought, if he can do it, I can also do it! 


Ad lyrics:

Greatness it’s just something we made up.

Somehow we come to believe that greatness is a gift reserved for a chosen few for prodigies, for superstars, and the rest of us can only stand by watching.

You can forget that. Greatness is not some rare DNA strand. It’s not some precious thing. Greatness is no more unique to us than breathing. We are all capable of it, all of us.


It’s not enough to create a story and put it out there through one channel only. You need to build up a story around your story, and one of the good examples is above. 

Build Story around a Story! 

Commercial with a beautiful story about LeBron, his return to Cleveland and his passion for basketball and the city as well! But it’s even better because they added an option to download the wallpaper on which you can see LeBron among Cleveland fans. On this wallpaper you can only see the Just do it tagline with the swoosh, but the focus is on the story. 

You can always put ‘behind the scene’ stories about making of the commercial, or even make interviews with athletes. Give people more of the story you created, this is key! If I love the story you created, I will search for more and more content about it on the internet, I will try to find how it all started, I will try find great wallpapers, motivational quotes etc. 

You can do everything, You can even prove that you are right about your ad!

How? Below on the left you can see an ad with name ‘There will be haters’, and in this ad Adidas is telling us a story about haters that every player has. On the other, right side, you have another story that is built in the same campaign. It is the proof of things showed in the ad on the left, that all players have haters. 

Adidas showed mean tweets to athletes, and recorded their reactions. 

Why would a company spend millions of dollars in media buys just to show their slogan and logo for five seconds on the tail end of a sixty second commercial? Because, Nike understands the power of a great authentic story, and that’s why they sell more shoes.

Today, we can use many platforms to tell a story, and to show our story to the people. You can combine Youtube, Twitter, Vine, Periscope, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, website, blog… 

You can produce short or long videos, you can record even with your mobile phone. There are many possibilities, and it’s up to you to create great content and spread it through social media.

Very cool example of campaign strategy is showed in “There will be haters” campaign. Adidas communicated with fans on Twitter in the same way as they communicated with them on Youtube.

Don’t forget one important thing, the best ad is when people don’t think it’s ad! I really love the example from Nike before the World Cup in Brasil. They launched a story named: The last game ft. Ronaldo, Neymar Jr., Rooney, Zlatan, Iniesta & more

Duration of this ad is 5:28 minutes, but it has more than 92 million views! But it was not an ad, it was a Story about a risky football versus safe football: The scientist and the clones want to prove that riskless football is more effective… Ronaldo Fenomeno and the original players disagree, and they are willing to risk everything to prove the scientist wrong. There is only one way to know who is right: the Last Game.

Do you see the power of a great Story? There is no Nike in it, but you can see the Swoosh at the begining and on the players. It’s enough, and people saw it many times in a little over 5 minutes. 



This blog post is also a new way of telling stories. We tried to give you the new experience, because we believe in content and storytelling. It’s very important to us, and you will see this form of articles in the future on our blog.

There is new way of creating content….before there were journalists, editors, designers… Today, we have content creators. Sometimes it’s just a GIF, sometimes it’s infographics, sometimes it’s just a snap, sometimes it’s a video with duration over 5 minutes, and sometimes it’s a case study.

In today’s world with 5.000 ads we see everyday, we will notice only the one with a good story behind it! And this is the main reason why Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and other use content and storytelling to sell things. 



More great examples of storytelling 

In videos below you can find more great stories of storytelling. If you have some great examples, please share it with us in comments bellow the article.

The best ad is when people don’t think it’s an ad. People love stories, they don’t like ads!

Marijan Palić

Marijan Palić

Overtime Sports Marketing

If you have any questions about sports marketing, feel free to contact me at

footer OT logo

Copyright © 2014-2016 Overtime

Follow Overtime team:

tw icon Marijan

tw icon Vedran

tw icon Bruno

tw icon Niko