The Elements of Advertising

I haven’t had the chance to post anything fun on here for a little while now due to a backlog of work (and some trouble with a client).

I thought I’d take some time today to go over a few advertising basics and test out some things I’ve been thinking about.

G-SHOCK by Casio is the unlucky brand being used as my example this time. Hopefully I don’t make a mess of it.

What’s in an Ad?

In its most basic form, an advert (a print ad, specifically) consists of an image and a headline. Nowadays, that’s pretty much all you’ll see.

Gone are the days of excessive copy. For the most part, at least.

Some would argue that’s a good thing, but I love an ad that forces you to sit down and read through paragraphs of factual ‘infotainment.’

They’re just not en vogue anymore.

Not many mourn their loss.

For today, I thought I’d try find a happy medium between the wordiness of ads gone by and the ultra-minimalist slogans and mantras used in the advertising of the present.

The Elements

Here’s the basic route I followed creating this speculative print ad:

1. I chose a brand I’ve owned and enjoyed.

2. I developed a concept and a vision for the ad.

3. I found a photograph that represented the vision.

4. I came up with a headline.

5. I decided on a subheadline that would catch the eye.

6. I wrote out the main copy that tells you a little more about the product (for the record, this is near enough copied from Wikipedia. I’m on a time limit, after all).

7. I put it all together with a product image and the brand logo.

The Copy

As mentioned earlier, the main ad copy is basically just taken from Wikipedia and tidied up a little.

If I didn’t self-impose time limits, I’d love to have a proper go at writing something persuasive and factual.

As it stands, the little statement about holding a world record is still fairly fun and interesting.

The Headline

Nothing too exciting about the headline. It doesn’t mention the product/brand, which is a shame. But otherwise, I don’t think it’s too bad.

It’s only seven words long and it breeds a little intrigue in the brain (“is there a story behind this?”).

It’s also still vague enough a statement to work without further reading.

The Subheadline

I really like this part of the ad. It’s unrelated to both the headline and the copy. It’s kind of its own separate thing.

I think it’s intriguing. The words used in it (mercenary, soldier of fortune, explorer etc) catch the eye – there’s something slightly illicit and dangerous about them,

It’s the type of thing that’d make me do a double take in a magazine, at least.

Simplification of an Advert

Sometimes, we go too far and add too much to an image. Other times, we prune away everything that made it intriguing.

Finding the right amount of text, the right words to say, the right imagery to use… it’s an art that people have spent years mastering.

Working on this quick spec ad reminded me of a particular section in Luke Sullivan’s book, ‘Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This.

In it, he talks about how a writer (Neil French) shows him a series of thumbnail sketches, in which he strips away all of the main components of an advertisement.

Every single extra element that is added to the ad decreases the importance of all the other elements.

Having a single, unified vision is what’s important. In that sense, my finished spec ad kind of fails.

That’s why I’ve included each component of the ad above. Have a look at each one again – each iteration, each element.

What do you think works? Is it the minimalist versions, or the wordy versions? What would make you consider purchasing the watch, if any?

Fractured Narrative

None of these speculative advertising posts have been very cohesive so far. They’re all just ramblings and jotted down notes.

I’m going to try and change that going forward and make each post a little more readable and traditional. I’ll try and make proper posts out of them, instead of just quickly typing down my thoughts.

I would love to provide value to any potential readers, instead of just treating this as an echo chamber for my own musings.

The photo I used in the ad is from Sadeq Mousavi on Unsplash