The hero's journey, or monomyth, is a well-known template for story design. Popularized by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero With A Thousand Faces, it is a collection of stages that a hero goes through in order to obtain a goal, and hopefully transform in the process… The hero's journey is an analytical expression of what we often see as "just good storytelling," so it makes sense that elements of it would appear in the most engaging or award-winning ads produced today, even if creators are using it unintentionally.
As someone who works in advertising during the day and writes fiction at night, I'm often struck by the crossover potential of so many tools and techniques to strengthen my work in both fields. Creative fiction and brand campaigns are both different kinds of stories, and there are some concepts in advertising that I've realized can also be utilized to create compelling fiction.
There is a Y&R consultancy, the Brand Asset Valuator® (BAV®) Group, that tracks how brands are perceived by the public and how those perceptions shift over time. They've discovered that the most successful brands have an inherent tension which makes them interesting, memorable, and irresistible. They defined this as Brand Tensity®.
Brand Tensity: The convergence of two or more contradictory forces, resulting in excitement, anticipation, and a palpable energy.
There's a reason why works of art are called compositions. They are by definition composed, with a structure that the creator felt best represented that work.
While I doubt anyone would fault a painter who sketches out her subject beforehand, or a songwriter who includes a chorus between his stanzas, the term "formula" has a negative connotation in storytelling. All formulae have the same purpose: to ensure clarity of message. Yet for other mediums they are considered tools of the craft, while for stories they are considered unscrupulous.