5 rules of great Nike storytelling

Marijan Palić
Sep 8, 2019 · 3 min read

I really like Nike’s approach to promotion and the way they tell a story. They create great content and share it with people. Their commercial about LeBron James was actually the inspiration for writing this post.

It is a great commercial with a beautiful story about LeBron, his return to Cleveland and his passion for basketball and the city as well!

If you want to make an impression, you can truly do it by storytelling. Why do stories even matter? Stories matter because we, human beings, are hardwired to receive information and transmit the 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 you want to make an impression, you can truly do it by storytelling.

Robert Dickman said: ”Story is a fact wrapped around an emotion, and that fact and emotion together cause that we take action”. If people can’t remember what you said, they can’t take action, so you must create a story!

There are 5 ingredients for successful storytelling from Nike:

1. Challenge

First they try to make a connection with the viewer by using everyday scenes (they show a person still lying in bed, a person working really hard while others are resting at home, a person who has a big game coming up…) or emotions that every day people go through on a regular basis (feeling of suspense and fear before the game, relaxation to music, the intense atmosphere in the locker room…).

This is how people around the world feel, and it is just the same with ‘the stars’. This first step is the ‘connection’ with the audience using the message: ”We are just like you!”.

2. Game

The game starts… There is a lot going on — action, fighting, teamwork … Those are all the reasons why you love sports.

3. Doubt and suffering

This is a very important stage in the commercial and it depicts the main character when he/she “hit the wall”. He/she loses, falls to the ground, he/she is in pain, the coach yells at him/her, the fans are furious at him/her… Those are all scenes and emotions that a regular person can easily relate to. In that sense, the commercial sends a message to everybody, especially the athletes (who are at the same time the potential buyers of the product being advertised).

4. Faith in yourself

This is the stage where the main character returns his self-confidence. He/she tells himself/herself: ”I can take it.”, ”I know I can do it.”, ”I am better than all the rest.”, ”I will motivate and lead the rest of the team.”, ”I will give all I’ve got in this game.”

This is what gives us hope and makes us believe in our own abilities as well. ”If he/she could do it, I can do it. Let’s go!”

5. Win

He/she will eventually win (with a little help from Nike, of course). This is what we all hope for — to achieve greatness and live up to our potentials. That’s exactly what Nike tells us through its commercials — buy the equipment, stick to it, do not give up no matter how hard it gets, because, in the end, you will be the winner!

Now when you have read the text, you can actually see some excellent examples of commercials containing these 5 elements!


It is no surprise that Nike is the leader among sports manufacturers in the world. It seems that they have found the recipe for success, and they know exactly what they are doing.

Sports marketing

Marijan Palić

Written by

Atomski Marketing Book Author I Marketing manager at AGENCY04 | @experta_hr lecturer | digital / sports marketing expert I Speaker I www.atomskimarketing.com

Sports marketing

Case studies and stories about sports marketing. By Marijan Palić, author of best selling marketing book in Croatia and sports marketing expert.

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