Ahead of what will be a veritable onslaught in Christmas themed stories over the coming months, this week I’m looking at the evolution of storytelling by brands. Once upon a time, brands responded to the divisive politics of Brexit and Trump by producing content seeking to unite us regardless of our race, religion or beliefs (TV2, Momondo, Heineken) I have to confess, I did get misty-eyed about a TV channel, shed a few tears for a travel company, and welled up over a beer… and all was good in the world again.

But the emotional stakes have been raised even higher in brand storytelling of late. Volvo, Axa and Toyota have all produced content championing incredible people, and these real life stories demonstrating human resilience will melt even the iciest of hearts this season. They focus on the power of innovation to overcome obstacles, so retain each brand’s core values whilst pulling at our heart strings with a human interest story.

Toyota’s ‘Mobility For All’ campaign urges us to ‘start your Impossible’ in celebration of its eight year sponsorship of The Olympic and Paralympic games. Showcasing examples of human achievement with the first of ten episodes featuring triple amputee Mike on his quest to run the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas 5K.

Axa’s The Ballet Dancer tells the story of Taylor Haines, who was born with a condition called Fibular Hememelia which resulted in her losing half her leg as a child, striving to be the best ballet dancer she can be.

She’s not good because she has overcome a disability, she is brilliant despite it. The accompanying film detailing her life and the production process involved in making the film itself, serves to reinforce the authenticity of the piece. The benefit of investing in a genuine inspirational tale provides watchable, sharable and award-worthy content to boot.

Volvo take things further with the heart rendering story of Rosemary Johnson, a talented violinist who suffered a devastating head injury which left her paralysed and unable to speak. Years later, with the help of technological innovation she is able to compose music and re-join her orchestra. Cue mascara warning.

All represent the respective brand’s mission statements in a creative way. Toyota promise to lead the way to the future of mobility, enriching lives around the world’.Axa strive to ‘empower people to live a better life’ for which Taylor provides the perfect testimonial. Volvo endeavour to ‘make people’s lives easier, safer and better’ and Rosemary is the most extreme example of this in their series of ‘Human Made Stories’ designed to inspire all of us every day.

So whereas previously brands were falling over themselves to ‘transmit values’ in a climate where nailing your moral colours to the mast was imperative, now a trend seems to be more towards how brands can enrich our lives and enable us to be the best we can, making it far more about the individual.

Of course Christmas will bring its own themes, with the eagerly anticipated John Lewis advert setting the bar each year with this year’s offering rumoured to have a cuddly monster and a George Michael ‘Last Christmas’ sound track.  Grab the tissues and prepare for a festive fallout.

Get the next edition of our Ceres Newsletter