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basic story plots in storytelling: the key to powerful marketing narratives

Today, almost all successful marketing strategies are based on the principles of storytelling. Cause is simple: stories work. And good stories work and sell. The question arises: how do companies choose stories? Why are they so effective? What aspects of history are people most receptive to? It turns out that it's all about the basic plots.

In 2004, English journalist and writer Christopher Booker published a book entitled "The Seven Essential Plots": "Why We Tell stories "(The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories). In it he tells about the so-called plots-archetypes, which unite almost all the cultural heritage of the world. "Whatever story you tell, it will somehow belong to one of these plot scenarios” — the author convinces the reader.

All of them are familiar to mankind since the times of ancient civilizations: now, centuries later, brands are more than adapt them to their philosophy and transmit their own values through them. Consider each of the seven stories in more detail.

Defeat the monster

A classic plot symbolizing the eternal confrontation between good and evil. The hero fights the terrible monster or dark force and wins. Such a story can often be found in Greek mythology, American westerns and popular superhero comics.

In marketing, the brand always helps the hero to defeat “evil” — he has incredible power, knowledge and is able to find a way out of any situation. For decades, "Toilet Duck" regularly destroys germs, and Orbit kills caries.

Apple used this technique in their "Big Brother: 1984" commercial. A heavy stone was thrown at the garden of the main competitor - dominant in the market at that time IBM. It was she who meant apple marketers under Orwellian Big Brother.

Best for: Telling the story of a small company facing a big competitor, the founder company that fights personal or professional demons, or an abstract fighter with established procedures.

From rags to riches

Abandoned hero suffers many losses and setbacks, but one incredible event turns all his life. Unlike the previous plot, there is no self-improvement and growth of the hero in the process. Trials and victories - joyful changes occur only by the will of fate, which presents him with a generous present. And sometimes it can even take this same gift back: just remember the good old fairy tale about Cinderella.

Examples of a plot in literature and cinema are Dickens' "Great Expectations" and "David Copperfield", the story of the famous "Wolf" from Wall Street and a whole genre layer of comedies in the style of "Millionaire Reluctantly".

Among global brands, this scenario was successfully used by Johnny Walker, the founder of the brand of the same name. Famous tape The image of a simple Scottish guy who suddenly received a fabulous inheritance and became famous, fit well into the first advertising posters and product announcements.

Good for: talk about the importance of learning from your mistakes and the fact that sometimes even in the cruel world of business, a miracle happens.


The hero sets off on a long and dangerous journey, where adventures and all sorts of obstacles await him on the way to some goal. It is the presence of purpose that distinguishes this archetype from others. Examples of this plot are in folklore tales and modern literature: remember the ancient Greek "Iliad" or wandering hobbits in The Lord of the Rings.

In advertising, this plot refers to situations where a person (in this case, a consumer) is faced with a certain challenge. It could be any everyday problem like a scale in the washing machine or a terrible sauce stain, or something more global.

Going on a trip in the literal sense is not at all necessary. The solution to the problem may come in the form of brand character - Mr. Proper or a relative with the saving of strong detergent.

Good for: Stories about startups and entrepreneurs who were able to cope with difficulties on the way to success.

Round trip

The main character goes to an unknown place, meets new characters and overcomes the whole series trials in order to return home. Friends found during the trip, accumulated experience and wisdom help to cope with all the difficulties and find a way back.

The very title of the plot immediately refers us to the story of Bilbo from Tolkien's story "The Hobbit or There and back," Homer's "Odyssey" is also an excellent example. Traveling into the unknown always aroused the curiosity of the audience. This technique is actively used by tour operators and airlines that advertise a new wonderful world and amazing discoveries.

Useful for: talk about the benefits of the new experience and what the company or its team has learned from the founder during his symbolic "journey".


Laughter is the strongest emotion. People love to be amused and are willing to share funny content with others. Humor allows us to abstract from external problems and relax - this is the main strength of the comedy genre. In addition, the comic is very well remembered, and the notorious jokes with a beard serve direct confirmation of this.

However, there are not so many successful comedy stories in marketing campaigns. Making the audience laugh is a much more difficult task than to provoke her to tears, irritation or anger.

Suitable for: to talk in an ironic way about the difficulties of the company at the beginning of the journey or even the weak points of the industry as a whole.


The second oldest plot, along with comedy, is based on the opposite emotion of laughter - fear.

Using fear as a tool of influence, it is important to arouse in the audience a sense of the inevitability of disaster. Most often, this plot underlies social advertising or promotion of companies working in the field. security.

There is an opinion that it is not recommended to use the plot of the tragedy in the promotion of "ordinary" brands, since a sad ending doesn't sell well. However, the popularity of the horror genre and extreme entertainment among a significant part of the audience make you think that the potential of this archetype may not be fully disclosed.

What is it suitable for: to talk about global problems, to sincerely share experiences with the brand audience.


This storyline is suitable for a business that has experienced a reputation crisis, economic downturn, or other events that can symbolize figurative death and resurrection. A critical situation may be caused by both external and internal factors. The brand is undergoing a renewal process and tells in the advertising message about the beginning of its new life. Among companies using this storyline, General Motors and Lego, which 10 years ago faced bankruptcy.

If revival is your marketing theme, either you or your customers will be strongly identified with the struggle to create something new from the outdated or forgotten.

What is it suitable for: for rebranding or a story about how the company survived the crisis.

Coming up with compelling yet compelling stories is never easy. This process is facilitated by marketers not having to create a completely new story. All of them have been invented for many centuries back and are rooted in the mythology and folklore of different peoples. The task of experts is to choose the one that will be the perfect match for a brand or advertising campaign, adapt and tell the whole world your amazing story.

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Data collection on our website

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2. General information and mandatory information

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Statutory data protection officer

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Demographic data collection by Google Analytics

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Google Analytics Remarketing

Our websites use the features of Google Analytics Remarketing combined with the cross-device capabilities of Google AdWords and DoubleClick. This service is provided by Google Inc., 1600 Amphitheater Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA.

This feature makes it possible to link target audiences for promotional marketing created with Google Analytics Remarketing to the cross-device capabilities of Google AdWords and Google DoubleClick. This allows advertising to be displayed based on your personal interests, identified based on your previous usage and surfing behavior on one device (e.g. your mobile phone), on other devices (such as a tablet or computer).

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