Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss how discourse and figure nurture the narrative “capital” available to the community of marketing scholars through expanding its horizon of translational frames. It specifically discusses one such translational frame as presented within Holbrook’s (2015) discussion of jazz within a narrative of marketing management and how it enhances the understanding of marketing as a creative cultural force. Design/methodology/approach – Generalising from “jazz” to tropics, the commentary discusses three thematic reflective possibilities inspired by Holbrook’s article: content strategy; visual fluency and marketing creativity; and wider visions. This paper also examines how discussions about the wider public understanding of marketing can draw inspiration from the narrative framework suggested by Holbrook (2015) and his calculus of constructive ambiguity. Findings – As an area of study, tropics enriches the reflexive awareness of how the discipline of marketing is understood within academia and its various stakeholder communities. Research limitations/implications – The academic discipline of marketing needs to continuously reimagine itself and its relation to the changing social order in order to participate in dialogue with it. Originality/value – In particular, the commentary examines the jazz metaphor developed by Holbrook (2015) and suggests how this could affect the way that marketing presents itself within wider social contexts.