In the following article I will look at one of the most challenging disciplines in advertising, the print advertisement. Anyone attempting to use an advert in a magazine or as part of outdoor advertising to capture attention and stimulate a customer’s interest in a product or service is often faced with a big challenge. For creative minds advertising is the competition of ideas and without an exceptional idea the product will possibly be lost amongst the huge number of advertisements. I would like to examine advertising possibilities from the initial idea to a top campaign by looking at the following creative print ad campaigns.
The journey to achieve the perfect advertisement involves a bumpy ride and can occasionally take up a great deal of time. After working out a statement of objectives the ideas must be created and developed. The product which is to be advertised should be dealt with in a meticulous but also playful manner. It should be analysed and viewed from all perspectives. It is advisable to begin this process without putting any constraints on yourself in order to give room to even the most insignificant thoughts so that they can develop. The results of such campaigns can usually be classified in one or more categories. I will now introduce them via some selected examples and in a best case scenario help raise awareness for your own creative thoughts. The best policy is to admire but avoid copying.
|Without words||Combine and connect||Juxtaposition|
|Repetition and enumeration||Exaggeration||Turn things around 180 degrees|
|Omission and suggestion||Paradoxes and optical illusions||Provocation and shock|
|A change of perspective||Persiflage and parody||Symbols and signs|
|An invitation to play||Stories about the product||Absurd, surreal and bizarre|
|Take it literally||Change the product||Alternative use|
|Ambiguity||Playing with words||Metaphor and analogy|
The following examples show that you can often say more with images than with large amounts of text. In these cases the advantages of the product is shown without words. The product itself does not even have to be shown, instead the observer is invited to complete the advertising message by using the hints to fill in the omissions.
An extremely imaginative way to advertise a product is to combine or connect previously isolated ideas or aspects in order to create something completely new. The result will be even more exciting if the combined aspects originally had little to do with each other. Advantages and characteristics of the product can be emphasised in a completely new way.
If you are looking for a more classical way of advertising this can be achieved via juxtaposition. This is achieved by showing opposite pairs as “before/after” and using them as stimulus for advertising ideas. The most diverse and distant comparisons can be made in order to draw attention to the advantages of the product or problem situation.
These provide an excellent opportunity to promote the product in an entertaining way with a type of story. In turn repetition receives more attention via an irritating deviation or disruption from the norm. A pattern usually receives most attention when it does not match the usual structure. It is an interesting way to place the product in the observer’s field of vision.
Exaggeration is key for anyone who wants to remain in the memory. While this should not take place at all costs you should ask yourself in a humorous way how the advantages of the product could be shown effectively through exaggeration. However you should always make the ironic viewpoint clear to the observer so that the credibility of the advertising message does not suffer.
Another effect, which often appears curious, is achieved when you turn things around 180 degrees. The idea is to do something nobody expects and which is not the norm for the observer. The characteristics of the product are inverted, things are turned inside out, the invisible becomes visible, large becomes small and vice versa, the horrible becomes beautiful and beautiful things become ugly.
ght=”375″ class=”size-large wp-image-40609″ /> Advertising agency: DDB, Berlin, Deutschland[/caption]
Excitement can be created and the imagination stimulated by omitting or suggesting something in an advertisement. The observer is inevitably involved due to the incomplete information, as they are forced to reveal the concealed aspects themselves. It is relatively easy to generate attention in this way.
“I’m lying” is the perfect example of a paradox. “Firewood hire” or “Microsoft Works” can also be a contradiction in terms. Alongside paradoxical statements a non-verbal element, e.g. optical illusions, can also be used. In the eye of the beholder they can be used to create ambiguity, incredible characters or other paradoxical illusions.
The aim of advertisements which appear to be scandalous is to deliberately cause provocation. It requires a great deal of skill to plug the product in this often borderline manner. The product can be given a certain image with shocking images and statements, it can encourage people to reflect and attention can be increased manifold.
It is often helpful to present the product to the customer from another perspective. This can mean that things or a situation can be observed in a spatially detached manner, for example from the macro perspective or separated from space and time. It is also possible – mentally detaching yourself from your own body – to place yourself in another identity and show a previously unknown perspective.
The basis for parody or persiflage should be a popular original. It can have its origin in TV, cinema, advertising, literature, music, politics or art. It can be given a new meaning or completely change the original function without eliminating the primary characteristics. Potential targets are celebrities, fictional characters, brands, advertising slogans, fairy tale characters or logos.
Symbols and signs play an important role in our lives in many different situations. Objects, terms and entire issues are communicated via symbols. A large number of signs are understood across borders, but this universal language can often provoke different associations or feelings in each observer. So it is a broad area with many possible uses.
Advertising a product in a playful manner can have a motivating effect on the target audience. It is possible to arouse enthusiasm in children and adults for well-known games, puzzles or competitions with the simplest of resources. However, confusing invitations to play only function like all of the others when the target audience is attentive and wants to actively participate. Therefore the result should neither be too simple nor too complicated.
Following reality TV the media landscape has recently seen reality advertising assert itself. The product is placed quite naturally in everyday situations, usually with an additional idea. Surprising or exciting aspects or absurd everyday occurrences also contribute to awareness of the product. The product can also be presented in a completely new way via situational humour or new perspectives.
Anyone who wants to create advertisements such as the following clearly needs to be slightly mad. A certain amount of courage is also required to tackle contradictions, exaggerations, distortions, fantasies or crazy ideas, in order to take the product into the world of the absurd, surreal and bizarre. This way of finding ideas probably only suits a small number of advertisers.
Not everything should be taken literally. However, advertisements are perfect for idioms, metaphors, colloquial descriptions or word combinations. We create images in our heads about all types of subjects, so why not create adverts with these images in fantastic campaigns. The result can be funny, absurd and surprising.
The following three examples show how you can advertise a product in an off-beat way. You should think about all of the crazy things you can do with the subject. For example the product can be distorted, cut, something can be added to it or removed from it, it can be bent, squeezed, inflated, made invisible, you can breathe life into it, it can be disintegrated or given another body. Have fun with your own creations.
In this category you are invited to discover an extended use for the product. Possible uses can be portrayed in a playful manner and the original purpose can be turned into an unforeseen fantasy. Keeping an eye on the benefits of the product as far as possible, it can be exaggerated and with alternative uses can be employed in completely new areas or strange locations.
Advertisements with visual or linguistic ambiguity are very creative and challenging for the observer. For example, the target audience can be involved in a playful manner via optical illusions. With word play or suggestion the observer is encouraged to place the ambiguity in a meaningful context. The result can occasionally create a lasting impression of the printed advertisement.
How can the advertising message be portrayed with the help of a verbal image? You should be prepared to experiment with the typography and the opportunity to exceed the normal font size. Diverse opportunities for playfulness with the text and product are conceivable and you should examine the central advertising message for its possibilities of design and playfulness. You don’t even need to be a typography specialist.
Metaphors are visual comparisons and are similar to analogies. Through the metaphoric imagery a means of expression and shades of meaning are created which make the advertising statement more vivid and often more concise. For this type of advertisement you should look for similarities as the meaning of new things is made more accessible to us when compared with things familiar to us.
The basis for this article is the masterpiece Creative Advertising by Mario Pricken. It is now in its 11th edition and together with co-author Christine Klell he has recently captured the hearts of creative minds. I can heartily recommend this book to you as a work of reference for many different types of creative techniques and brain tools, as you look for the latest idea.