Formula for a good ad = Large picture of human face (Preferably smiling) + generic text (i.e. "Get yours", "Making a difference" or "Striving for Excellence")
Have ad developers and graphic designers run out of good ideas, or are they just lazy? Honestly I am not sure which is the case, but I can say that it’s probably one of the two, maybe a combo of the both.
I can’t say for certain that creative advertising efforts have always been better than this (and perhaps I am becoming more cynical as I’ve gotten older), but I look at some of the rubbish that passes for ads these days and I wonder:
- Do the people that designed the ad actually think it’s going to bring in customers, or do they not care?
- Did the client (advertiser) decide to “go cheap” and just hire some high school kid down the street rather than hiring a professional?
- Are a lot of the ads I see “designed” by administrative assistants, small business owners, clerks, office managers and other people that shouldn’t be designing any more than I should be performing root canals on patients?
- Are ads just getting worse?
Let’s take for instance the ad I have over there on the right. I stumbled on this ad while surfing one Saturday morning. The design of the ad was so lazy and so generic I decided to have a little fun with it. If you click on the thumbnail you’ll see a larger view that shows some Photoshop work I’ve done. I’ve gone ahead and photoshopped in six different companies that could have easily used this ad (because it’s so nonspecific, generic and yes, ineffective).
Can you guess the real advertiser? (Answer at the end of this post).
Well, whichever advertiser you picked, the ad’s still weak. And while I am not advocating that designers go the other extreme and load ad space up with an excessive amount of text, just have a human face and a button or call out box in an ad is not going to get people to take action (online or in print). And yes…I understand all that about brand impressions and top of mind awareness, but I am not buying it…furthermore, the businesses strapped for money to invest in marketing and advertising aren’t buying it – money is way too tight for most businesses/clients to buy into an advertiser or designer saying, “Well, I can’t really say how many customers this ad will bring in, but it will help you get your name out there.” Rubbish.
Ideally, ads build a case for advertiser, they help convince/persuade the viewer that the advertiser will not only solve their problem, but they are the best vendor to resolve that problem. When ads fall short of this, and they typically do, the ad loses effectiveness.
Ad designers, true, expert ad designers recognize that design only plays a small role in the overall effectiveness of an ad. If a designer can only offer clients is a pretty picture, they’re in trouble…but not half as much trouble as the client who’s shelling out money for an ad that that isn’t going to help their business at all.
So what really does make a good ad? I am sure there are variations, but I came up with this in a minute or so, I hope it helps:
Formula for a good ad = Compelling Content/Message + Call to Action + Solid Design + Creativity + Market Research
PS - the lower left hand corner company was the real advertiser - did you guess them?