Storytelling in advertising – a story of content writing success

by Anna Fozzard

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We might think that storytelling is reserved for novels, but it can play an effective role in advertising campaigns and other content writing. This is something that the most successful brands utilize frequently. One particular campaign that springs to mind is ‘Made in the Royal Navy’ which follows different employees’ stories. You must know how it goes…

“I said my first word at one. Kicked off the stabilisers at four. United mad by seven. Bored at eleven. First black eye and girlfriend at fourteen. Left school at sixteen. Broke my arm. Broke the bank. Eighteen, I worked nights in The Castle but then I stopped pulling pints and started pushing myself. I upped my game, made a leap. I learned to think on my feet. And off them. I put my life in the hands of others and held their lives in mine. I left home. I wrote home. I found a new home. I did things I never dreamed I would. And overcame things I never thought I could. The elements, the distance, the fears, the doubts. And all seven continents. Sure – I was born in Carlisle but I was made in the Royal Navy.”

This narration is Ben’s story. And we think it’s almost more charming when you read just the words without the clips. Here’s why we think the content writing and tone of voice worked so well.

Utilising the power of poem in your content writing

Ben’s story is poetic. There’s rhyme in there. It plays on words: ‘pulling pints, pushing myself’. It’s snappy and it’s poignant, even though it’s using a conversational tone of voice.

The power of great content writing celebrates the story of an ordinary person who has gone on to do extraordinary things. Would the advert have had the same effect if it read “I said my first word at one. Then I liked riding my bike. When I was seven I liked football. But I suppose I was a bit bored at eleven…” – we think not.

The Royal Navy uses poetry to make the idea of signing up more relevant to the new generation. Ben wasn’t the only person in the navy to have an advert dedicated to his life. We also learned about Jessica who was a chatterbox at school and had no qualifications to learning how to maintain some of the most powerful weapons in the world. We met Jamal, who joined the submarines because we wanted to work with the gadgets but found himself enamoured by the people he works with. And we went on a journey around the world with one of the cooks, Shantel. Not all the stories are told with the same poetic freedom as Ben’s, but they all share one common thread: authentic moments and an authentic tone of voice.

Immersing viewers through great content writing

The content writing team behind the adverts used clever storytelling to help the audience find common ground with people who have forged rewarding careers in the Navy. There are currently four vanguard-class submarines in the Navy’s nuclear deterrent programme. Most of us would never get a glimpse of what life is really like for those working on the submarines. It’s interesting in itself. But the Royal Navy really brings the realities to life with the advert about Jamal.


Because of the effective use of compelling storytelling.

The content strategy for this advert was about tugging at our emotions. It focuses on people and friendship. Even something as simple as a full English breakfast is poignant when you bring close-knit people and smiles into the equation. 

The rationale behind the words

Poetic content writing was effective in this particular campaign for the Royal Navy, but it’s not the answer for every brand. Adverts must have a level of authenticity to them, and the Navy’s overall brand statement of “to maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas” aligned itself with the moving nature of poetry.

I believe storytelling can always help to bring a brand and its values to life, but the task is identifying the most appropriate content strategy. How can your brand use the power of storytelling to make itself a bestseller? Start with your company values, find the human touch and bring it all out with the right tone of voice.

See more from Stratton Craig

Content writing is in our DNA. We’re a copywriting company with a team of expert writers, content strategists and project managers. Get in touch for copywriting services that bring your brand and values to life.

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