“Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem. Marketing helps others become who they seek to become.”

Seth Godin

Sometimes marketing is like a circus, a dazzling spectacle where brands juggle fire and swallow swords to grab your attention. But there are those rare acts that do more than just dazzle. They inspire, uplift, and dare I say, help us become a bit more than we were yesterday.

Take the WWF, for instance. This isn’t just a group of tree-huggers and panda lovers. Oh no, they’re the ringmasters of conservation, orchestrating a global show where each of us gets a front-row seat and, more importantly, a role to play.

Their Earth Hour campaign is like an open invitation to a masquerade ball, where everyone, from the baker in Berlin to the banker in Buenos Aires, turns off their lights for an hour. It’s a simple act, yet in that darkness, we find a shared purpose, a collective whisper saying, “Hey, we’re all in this together.” It’s marketing that doesn’t just say, “Look at us,” but rather, “Look at what we can do together.”

Then there’s Nike, the Herculean herald of athletic apparel. But to see Nike as just a seller of sneakers is like saying Shakespeare was good with words. Nike’s marketing strides beyond the tracks and fields, reaching into the very essence of aspiration.

Their campaigns are less about the shoes and more about the stories of those wearing them. From the underdog in the alley shooting hoops to the marathoner breaking records and stereotypes, Nike’s message is clear: “You have greatness within you.” It’s not just a tagline; it’s a torch they’re passing on. Every ad, every slogan is a nudge, a coach’s pep talk saying, “Go on, be more than you thought you could be.”

What WWF and Nike masterfully demonstrate is the art of transcendent marketing. It’s not about peddling a product—it’s about presenting a vision, a possibility, a new version of ourselves and our world.

They’re not just selling—they’re storytelling. And in these stories, we find ourselves as the heroes, capable of more than we ever imagined.

In a world where marketing often feels like a loudspeaker blaring sales and deals, WWF and Nike turn it into a conversation, a shared dream where we’re all invited to be bigger, do better, and dare more. It’s a reminder that the best marketing doesn’t diminish us into mere consumers—it elevates us into participants, dreamers, and doers.

And in that elevation, we find the true magic of marketing.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand & Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.