Big Brands That Use Storytelling in Video Ads

People engage more with brands that put out authentic content versus brands that don’t. It’s easier to engage with a brand that puts out content with real customers, real stories, and real emotion. It makes it easier for us to relate to people in ads when they look, talk, and act like we people we engage with every day.

While there are certainly big brands out there creating beautiful and engaging professional brand content, it does not compare to the impact of a well-told story from a real customer. Professional branded content feels more “manufactured”, so it’s harder for us to relate. 

User-generated content receives the highest amount of authenticity points with consumers. Brands that curate UGC and build it into their content strategy receive high engagement from their followers. Check out this comparison between brand content and UGC:

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Consumers engage more with user-generated content because it is easier for people to picture themselves in the story. In the example above, the UGC shows people that appear to be genuinely enjoying their McDonald’s meal and having a good time. It’s easier for us to imagine ourselves enjoying a meal with that group of people, rather than the scripted group in the branded content. 

Our brains are naturally wired to engage with content that looks and feels like our daily experiences. That is why big brands are beginning to put more funding and effort into developing authentic content. Here are a few big household name brands that have started using storytelling and authenticity to develop wonderfully engaging content.


Offering really cool stuff to your customers is just not as sexy as it used to be. When you show people what that cool stuff looks like in action - with real people - that is when they get excited! 

Verizon began incorporating more real customers into their ads. This ad in particular showcases two young sisters that won a Verizon VIP concert ticket contest. The two sisters describe what it was like to be there, how it felt to interact with the singer, and how much the experience changed their lives. 

Verizon told a story with this ad, and it is a powerful one. As a viewer, you can imagine yourself there with the Yousafzai sisters. The sisters are real people, and after watching the ad you feel as if it is not too far off for you to experience that yourself. 


Subaru has a reputation for making ads that are strictly about storytelling - and they work! They do not talk about the vehicle, the features it has, how much it costs, how many miles per gallon it gets. They only focus on the customer’s story, and how they use their Subaru vehicle to help them achieve the life they love. 

One thing to note is that not many brands can pull off what Subaru does in their ads. Being able to run an ad without mention anything about your product shows how powerful and known your brand is to the general public. 

The first lesson you learn when figuring out your brand’s story is that your customer is the hero of the story, not your product. Your product is the tool that the hero uses to overcome their challenges and win the day. Out of all the big brands that use storytelling to create authentic content, Subaru is in the lead.


They do not want you to find a place to stay, they want you to find a place to live. Airbnb revolutionized the hospitality industry, and it has changed the way people travel. You are invited to use other people’s homes as if it is your own. When you use Airbnb, you truly get to feel what it’s like to live in the area you are visiting.

When you use Airbnb, you get an authentic experience. Their ads back up that experience and show you what it is like to live all over the world - one place at a time. In this ad, it shows two people on their traveling experience. They check in to their Airbnb, get settled, and then go out and explore the place they are visiting. 

As a viewer, we can picture ourselves on this trip. The first 25 seconds of this ad is solely about the trip these two are on and the experiences they have. They do not show the product, or even talk about it, until the last 10 seconds of the ad. This is the type of authentic content that backs up the authentic experience users feel when they use Airbnb when traveling.

Closing Thoughts

Sometimes, it can take bigger brands a little bit to catch up with the latest trends. Large organizations generally lack the flexibility of a smaller company. When it comes to business storytelling, there are big brands out there that are not only caught up with the latest trends, but they are also setting the trends themselves. 

As more and more ads become circulating in our daily lives, brands need to become creative in order to set themselves apart. It is not enough to tell people about really cool products - because we live in a world filled with really cool products. You need to show people what those really cool products look and feel like, and what it is like for real people to use them. When you make it easier for customers to visualize themselves using your products, it becomes easier for them to make a purchase.

Taylor Landrum