The sporting way to tell your brand story

The sporting way to tell your brand story

Jun 06, 2019
Between the triumphs and defeats… the favourites and the underdogs… and the remarkable journeys athletes endure to make it to the top, fields, pitches and tracks are filled with stories – so it’s no surprise that sports brands use their marketing activities to tell stories of their own. Content that shows audiences the highs and lows of every beautiful game has been proven to win the hearts and attention of the audience in the most emotive way – through the use of captivating copywriting, heart-felt vocal delivery and moving music.   

A recent example of the power of effective copywriting can be seen in Nike’s latest iteration of their ‘Crazy Dreams’ campaign. Created in recognition of Tiger Woods’ remarkable Masters win (10 years after he last won a Major and in the wake of a series of personal scandals) the short film interspersed footage of Tiger throughout his career with the following onscreen copy across multiple frames:

PHMG: It’s crazy to think a 43-year-old who has experienced every high and every low and has just won his 15th Major is chasing the same dream as a-three-year-old.”
Simple yet powerful, these lines (supporting the visual) illustrate how Tiger’s ambition has never faltered since he first picked up a golf club at the age of three. The patterning of ‘highs and lows’ and ‘three to forty-three’ enhances the flow, showing how far he’s come. And by foregrounding 'crazy', the ad straightaway identifies itself as a continuation of the original Nike campaign, which already used Serena Williams’ voice to transform the word ‘crazy’ from a negative to a positive. This is all rounded off by the instantly recognisable ‘Just Do It’ – their own strapline reinforcing Tiger’s journey

From the greens, we glide over to the ice – and see another example of emotive sporting storytelling in the NHL’s latest ad, ‘Feel’. Similarly to Nike, they make use of effective patterning in copy. Lines like "what an eight-time all-star and an eight year old kid have in common" and "begins as something you would watch, but becomes something you feel" illustrate how hockey is so much more than a sport to the fans. But rather than in words on the screen like Nike, the NHL delivers their message through the mouth of a voice artist. His soft, gentle and truly heartfelt read imbues every word with a real human, emotive side – especially important for a campaign titled ‘Feel’.

The previous two campaigns we’ve considered have very much put the focus on the copy. Yet as Under Armour has proven in two of their recent ads, a story can be told with just a handful of words – if you have the right music track. Back in 2016 for the Rio Olympics, the sportswear brand enlisted 28-time medal winning swimmer Michael Phelps to star in ‘Rule Yourself’ – a short film featuring footage of his arduous training set to a soundtrack of ‘Last Goodbye’ by The Kills. An apt choice for an athlete on the cusp of retirement for the second time, the remarkably un-rocky, 40s-esque ballad adds a real heart-wrenching quality to the piece – and undeniably contributed to the ad being the most-shared of the games. Following this success, the brand used a similar format for their latest ‘Will Makes us Family’ campaign. This time, they highlighted the determination in training with footage from everyday athletes alongside stars like Olympic Skier Lindsay Vonn, Carolina Panthers Quarterback Cam Newton and Principal of the American Ballet Theatre Misty Copeland – with the soulful ‘You Can Make It If You Try’ by Gene Allison foregrounding their dedication and adding a relatable, family feel.  

The adverts we’ve explored all tell a story by combining a track, onscreen script or vocal performance with visual footage of athletes at work – but such is the power of these three elements, they don’t need the backing of an image to deliver their message. An audio brand is a hugely effective way for a company to tell their story because it performs on three levels – copy delivers the information and content; voice instils a human quality; and an exclusively composed Brand-Sound-Track™ by PHMG injects emotion and immense memorability. Amplifying branding in this way heightens the impact, and ultimately the lasting connection with the consumer – which is something every company (sporting or otherwise), strives for.

When companies are faced with a marketing playing field packed with competition, an audio brand creates a clear path to the goal.