Creative Marketing | 18/03/2019

Part one: The power of storytelling – what we can learn from the Ancient Greeks

Posted by James Dempster

The Ancient Greeks knew that messages were only compelling when they had elements of pathos, logos and ethos. Of course, data and analysis is key to any digital marketing campaign, but don’t lose sight of the importance of telling a good story.

When it comes to marketing, stories are incredibly valuable. In fact, a hefty 92% of consumers want brands to make ads that feel like a story. If your customers want it, then it is time to get on board. That’s why we’ve released this series of blogs.

Why bother with storytelling in marketing?

Storytelling is an innate part of the human experience, from stories we’re told as children by our parents, to those we eagerly recite to friends and colleagues. The power of a good story lies in the ability of the storyteller to create a world so vivid that their listeners can imagine themselves a part of it. In marketing, there is no greater power than enabling your customers to imagine themselves in need or want of your service or product. When they can see how what you’re offering fits into their own lives, they are far more likely to invest in it.

Storytelling ultimately makes your marketing efforts more persuasive. So what does this have to do with the ancient Greeks?


Ancient Greeks and the science of persuasion

The phrase ‘the art of persuasion’ often leads people to believe that persuasion is an innate talent that can’t be taught. You either have it, or you don’t. Thankfully, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Arguably, one of the most famous ancient Greeks, the philosopher Aristotle, created the science of persuasion. He broke down persuasion into three elements: logos, pathos and ethos. Incorporate these into your social media and content, and you too can craft a story that will persuade your customers to click, buy, register, sign up, you name it.

Here is what each of those three elements means in practice:


Translated from ancient Greek, logos means reason. It refers to the logical part of an argument. In the case of your marketing, it argues that your product or service is worth investing in due to the simple facts. When faced with cold, hard data or stats, it’s hard to reason against it.

For example: Sensodyne toothpaste is the #1 dentist-recommended toothpaste for sensitive teeth.


Pathos literally means suffering, but in the context of Aristotle’s full-proof method of persuasion, it refers more broadly to eliciting an emotional reaction in your audience.

For example: a Legal & General life insurance poster of a smiling mum and her two young children dressed up as monsters. The poignant caption reads, “How would your little monsters cope without you?”


Ethos means character or disposition and refers to the credibility and trust you need to build as a brand. Without ethos, logos and pathos mean nothing. At a grassroots level, this takes time to build with customer testimonials and referrals. But from a marketing perspective, a quick and effective way to communicate this is through endorsements by thought leaders, experts, influencers and celebrities.

For example: Nike promoting its Phantom football boots with a TV ad featuring a host of footballers including Philippe Coutinho, Mallory Pugh and Neymar Jr.

The power of three

This triumvirate of persuasion (logos, pathos and ethos) gives every story you tell greater reach, as you pique the interest of your customers and they do the job of spreading your story for you.

Today that means sharing posts, blogs and other content across any number of social media platforms. But back in ancient Greek times, getting a story to go viral was more challenging. This makes those select few, enduring ancient Greek stories even more inspiring, and importantly, informative when it comes to tips for promoting your product or service.


A helping hand from Homer

Take Homer, legendary author of the epic poems ‘The Illiad’ and ‘The Odyssey’, both still recited over 3000 years after they were first told. These tales were about wars, sieges and heroic voyages starring Gods, royals and warriors – not exactly things your everyday Greek could empathise with. So how did Homer manage to get generation after generation retelling his stories? How did he get his audience to spread the word about his poetry? And how can you do the same with your product?

Homer made it relatable. He did this in several ways, one of which was to use chunks of poetry from previous tales (copyright not being an issue back then) to add familiarity. Another approach was to use epithets every time he introduced one of his larger than life characters. It wasn’t just Odysseus, but the witty Odysseus or the intelligent Odysseus. His audience could then connect to this fictional character and the unfolding story by imagining someone they knew who was similarly witty or intelligent. Homer essentially made his audience feel a part of the story.

If you can get your target audience to feel a part of the story you’re telling, you can take them on a journey with the final destination being the purchase of your product or promotion of your brand.

Interested in finding out more about the power of storytelling? Download our recent guide ‘The power of storytelling’ – we’ll give you actionable tips and advice for getting your stories heard.

At Fox&Bear, we love stories. If you’re looking to embark on a storytelling journey in order to connect with your audience and showcase your offering but aren’t sure how to execute a multi-channel strategy, we’d love to help. Give us a call on 01273 208913 or email us at