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Creating Ads

Copy and graphics combine to create powerful, eye-catching ads. The key roles of ad creation are defined for both the career-oriented individual as well as those wanting to create their own advertisements.
  1. Advertising Materials
  2. Copywriting (44)
  3. Graphic Design (4)

Ridiculous Deadline? Sweating Bullets?
It’s time to look at the final four steps you should take in order to meet your deadline without losing your sanity. Remember, these deadlines should be rare occurrences. If you find yourself working like this all the time, you need to have a serious word with your boss, or your client. Once or twice, fair enough, but a regular headache like this is just abusive.

Wacky Ideas Can Work, But Use Them Right
So, it’s fair to say that wacky, crazy advertising ideas would be considered irrational, silly, bizarre, and even senseless. And while they can definitely fulfill the most important goal of any advert – to get noticed – it’s important to make sure people remember what the ad is for, and why the ideas connect. Back in the 1990s in England, HHCL did a campaign for Tango that most would characterize as wacky or silly. The Tango man, dressed entirely in orange, came up behind people in the street and kissed them (or smacked them on the head) after they had taken a sip of the fizzy beverage.

Ridiculous Deadline? Sweating Bullets?
We’ve all been there, because the ad business is built on crazy deadlines and long nights in the agency. It will never, ever change either, because this is a service industry based around keeping the client happy. So, knowing that the inevitable crazy deadline will soon be upon you (or is as you read this…which begs the question, why aren’t you working on the brief?) what can you do to make sure the panic doesn’t take over?

Write, Write and Write Again
Back in the golden age of advertising, a creative brief would be given to an art director/copywriter team in the creative department. They would be given the download on the product or service, the problem that needed to be solved, the timeline, the budget, and so on. After receiving the brief, perhaps with a little early direction from the creative director, the team did something that is very rare these days. They took a walk. Or they sat in the agency lounge, drinking a coffee. They may have placed the brief to one side and finished another job they were working on.

Get Away From The Industry Rags
Now, if you were to take away the award show annuals, and the blogs and websites, and left creatives in a world without all that reference material, what would happen?

Be Smart, But Don’t Show Off.
Many of today’s advertising creatives will approach a job wanting to do the coolest, most incredible pieces of work that they can. They want it to sing. They want it to be praised by other agencies. They want it to win every award (make that every gold award) and be the first piece in their portfolio. And if it also happens to connect with the consumer, even better. This kind of thinking is not thinking at all. It’s shooting the campaign in the foot before it ever gets out of the gate. If you put the consumer last, you can expect them to do the same with your advertising. It will be last on their minds, leaving you with a campaign that may look pretty, and clever, but does nothing for your client.

Inspiration Jolt
There are many ways you can approach a project when you’re feeling stuck in a rut, but how many times have you looked at the brief and said “I wonder what a comedian would make of all this?” Probably not too many times, right? To be fair, most people don’t. Unless the brief actually has a comical element to it, or specifically requests that kind...

I’m Not Buying That One.
Advertising, at its best, is about focusing on the truth of a product or service in a way that is memorable, powerful, entertaining, or maybe even all three. Often, it’s about exaggerating a benefit. These days, it’s more about REALLY exaggerating a benefit to the point of ridiculousness. And that has started to create some ads that, even though we know they’re just ads, are still pushing the limits of believability to the point of insanity.

Budget Does Not Dictate Quality.
Throughout your career, you will be faced with varying sizes of budgets. You may even be lucky enough to work on a spot that has a Super Bowl budget. Millions and millions of dollars (we’ll get to that in a moment). But usually, you’ll never have enough money. If you’re working on a print ad, you’ll want more money for the shoot than you’re given. You may not even get the money you need to do any shoot.

Always Consider The Media as Well as The Message
The idea of creative media placement is not exactly cutting edge any more. But, the majority of ads you will see, or create, still don’t take that into account. Sadly, media is often bought long before the creative team has had a chance to work on the project. You must, for the sake of your client and your own career, consider the media just as carefully as you consider a headline or a layout.

The Single Minded Proposition – What Is The SMP, And Why Is It Important?
If you’re new to advertising, you will hear people talking about the SMP (Single Minded Proposition), or sometimes the USP (Unique Selling Point / Unique Selling Proposition). They’re all one and the same, although the term USP was invented by Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates & Company decades ago. In his book, Reality In Advertising, published in 1961, Reeves gives a precise, three-part definition of the USP which is just as relevant today as it was over 50 years ago.

Getting Noticed Is Your Advertising’s Number One Priority
To break through to the consumer, your advertising is going to have to be pretty special. That does not mean beautifully crafted copy and art direction. That’s a given. Everything you do should be well-crafted. No, special means eye-catching. Really, really eye-catching.

How To Stop People Stealing Your Ideas
I get a lot of letters and emails asking me “how do I keep my ideas safe?” and “how can I make sure that my ideas remain my ideas?” Or, to go one better, “what do I do if someone steals my ideas?” And to many, these are tricky questions.

The Holiday Card Assignment
It’s no secret that creatives in advertising and design agencies have a very peculiar love/hate relationship with the holiday (or Christmas) card assignment. The two words in parenthesis there are a fine example of why…it’s really a Christmas card, but the politically correct days we exist in have abolished that. In England and other countries, the agency still sends out Christmas cards. Here in America, Christmas is one of many holidays we now celebrate around this time, with Hanukkah, Kwanza and the New Year all coming in to play.

Advertising And Women
As a man, in advertising, I am writing this knowing that in the past I have created ads that are guilty of this objectification. As a man who consumes advertising, I can also say I have been affected by them in some way.

Lies, Lies and Advertising.
There is no smoke without fire, and there are clearly many rotten apples that have ruined both professions, in the eyes of the general public anyway. Lawyers are slimy liars who will do anything to win a case. Advertisers are slick liars who will say anything to get a sale. However, this is just not true. The “truths” about us are lies 99% of the time.

6 Ways Advertising Attracts Men.
In part one of this two-part series, we looked at three different ways advertising panders to men. First, by really playing up the manliest things in life. Second, by bowing down to the inner child within us all. And third, to bombard us with images of attractive semi-naked women. Now we look at three more ways that advertising sells stuff to the weaker sex (trust me, we die earlier, we get more diseases, we are not stronger in many regards).

Two Words To Ensure Creative Success Every Time – Hard Work
As any hard-nosed, long-time creative person will tell you, there’s nothing tough about ripping off another idea. And all too often, it can be avoided if you put in the groundwork and follow a set of rules that lead to a wealth of creative riches.

6 Ways Advertising Attracts Men.
Over the years, I have noticed that the adverts seem to fall into several big buckets. There are obviously more than six categories, but most fit into them. If you’re a woman reading this, some will apply to you, too. After all, you also buy products for men. But advertisements that are aimed at you, for you, tend to fall into different...

Great Execution Is Not A Great Idea
It is not uncommon for lazy creative teams to seek out the cool execution first, and then back the product into that idea. And it happens all the time. In fact, if you look at Ads Of The world, it won’t take long to sift out those ideas that were made to fit the execution.

5 Overlooked Advertising Truths
On the subject of truth, it’s worth turning that analysis on our own industry. We need to look for truths that are overlooked because they’re inconvenient, unpopular, or simply not understood. Here are five overlooked truths about modern advertising, design and marketing.

Viral Video – A Brief Definition Of The Term “Viral Video”
Briefly, a viral video is any footage, long or short, that becomes popular via social networking and Internet sharing. Viral videos can either be manufactured to become viral, although most viral videos become big unintentionally, and are simply so funny, shocking, or unexpected that they are prime material for sharing and forwarding.

Tips For Successful Brainstorming
Brainstorming is a word that many creatives loathe. And with good reason. When you get a dozen people in a room and tell them to throw some ideas around, it often leads to frustration and a lot of wasted time. The reason is because brainstorms, like so many other meetings, are not structured correctly and people don’t abide by some pretty basic rules.

Look Beyond The Billboard
There are places beyond non-traditional that you should consider, because now those “unexpected” places to advertise are becoming inundated with messages from big brands far and wide.

It’s All About The Clients
Clients. We love them. We hate them. We usually fall somewhere in the middle. When we win a pitch, they are our best friends and the bringers of joy. When they take creative work and make some kind of Frankenstein’s monster out of it, we want them to take a long walk off a short pier. But at the end of the day, the business is all about the...

Let’s Not Play it Safe
Vanilla is a flavor everyone, or 99% of ice cream eaters, like. It’s rarely loved or talked about with passion, but it’s a safe bet. Really safe. And safe advertising suffers the same flaws. If you play it safe, you’re playing to lose.

Warning: Today’s Advertising is Permanent
In the past, advertising and marketing could get away with flubs. If an ad agency produced a piece of work that missed the mark, upset people or created an outrage, it could pull it. And that was that. It was never heard from again. In fact, the only people who were likely to recall it were the creatives working on it, and the account manager with a flawless memory. But today, once it's out there, it's out there forever.

Don’t Be Too Smart For Your Own Good
It’s probably correct to say that less than 10% of all the advertising produced is genuinely clever, creative and inspiring. But it’s also true to say that while being trite and cliché is unacceptable, it’s also a waste of time, energy and resources to overthink a project. Sadly, all too often creatives and ad agencies will let their egos get in the way and refuse to do something simple and effective. And being overly clever, well that’s almost as bad as being hackneyed.

One Quick & Easy Way To Do Better Work
There is no shortcut to talent and creativity. While you can always get better, and learn more, you need to have the raw ability to become a success in advertising. But over the years, one thing has proven more of a driving force behind great creativity than anything else. And that one thing is the deadline.

Anyone CAN Have a Great Idea
We’re not all tall. Or handsome. Or runway models. Or charmers. Or musicians. But on the other hand, when it comes to our industry, we’re all thinkers. We really are. Even the dumbest of the dumb have thoughts and ideas.

Great Advertising Needs Great Clients
Some say that these ideas are few and far between, and that advertising is 90% mediocrity and 10% brilliance. But those of us in the industry, on the creative side at least, know that brilliant ideas are born every day. Sadly, having a great idea is really only half of the battle. Getting the client to buy it, that’s a different story.

10 Articles Aimed Squarely At Advertising Creatives
Whether you’re brand new to the advertising industry, a veteran, or maybe still in college, there is always an opportunity to learn more, and improve yourself. If you’re looking to learn a little something, improve your thinking, arm yourself with ad knowledge, or just want to see how other creatives think, the following articles are for you.

Creating a Call to Action
Why isn't the phone ringing? Maybe it's your call to action. Use these techniques to boost sales and get those phones ringing.

Another 5 Creative Exercises
In a pervious post you were presented with 10 challenges to aid creative thinking. Now, it’s time to up the ante, with some problems that delve a little deeper, take a little more of your time, and perhaps a little more creativity. You obviously don’t have to do them all, but when you have a lull between projects and need something to keep your...

Stock Photography
Say “stock photography” to anyone worth their salt in a creative department, and they will look at you with a mixture of contempt and fear. Mostly contempt. Despite stock houses making many millions of dollars from stock every year, most of the big agencies won’t touch it. But why is it so universally hated by the top dogs, and loved by smaller...

The 10 Most Powerful Words in Advertising
Advertising has changed a lot of the decades, but certain words are as powerful today as they were so many years ago. Here then are the 10 words you should always consider using in your campaigns; and if you've been paying close attention, you'll realize three of them are actually in the headline and subhead of this article.

Don’t Say It, Prove It.
When people first get into advertising, especially on the creative side, they find it easier to simply come out and say what they think the product or service is all about. Being direct, it seems, is the best way to get to the consumer. But this is not how good advertising works. To be successful, don't say it...prove it.

What Advertising Creatives Can Learn From Columbo
"Just one more thing" is the famous line we all know Lt. Columbo says. But he's actually one of the best creative thinkers ever to grace the airwaves, and the way he solves problems could help you make much better ads. Are you ready for the Columbo how-to guide?

10 Exercises To Get The Wheels Turning (Again)
There's nothing as frustrating as writer's block, or staring at a blank page. But there are ways to sharpen the mind instead of admitting defeat. Try one of these 10 exercises the next time you feel stuck in a rut, or just want to sharpen your mind.

Seven Tips For Radio Advertising Success
Radio, when done correctly, is a fabulous advertising medium that can truly capture the imagination, build a brand and lead to a sale. Learn the seven tips for radio advertising success.

The Creative Department of an Advertising Agency and its Key Players
Advertising agencies do some very creative, funny and sometimes outlandish work. But where does it all come from? Well, in the best agencies, everyone's involved, but it's always the creative department that's at the core of the work. Think you could be part of one?

The Six Basic Rules of Billboard Advertising
The six rules you need to know to create effective billboard ads

Ten Ways to Blow Your Advertising Campaign
You didn't really want your ad campaign to be effective did you? Turn your ad campaign into a disaster by making these ten mistakes.

Changing Beliefs Vs. Changing Behaviors
Why it's easier to change customer behavior than customer beliefs.

Capitalizing on Creative
Morning person. Night owl. Creative levels peak at different times of the day. Use these five fundamentals to get the brightest ideas out of your employees.

Five Essentials for Planning an Effective Brochure
Before you tackle writing a brochure, you've got to thoroughly plan it out. These five essentials show you exactly what you need to do first.

Creative Director, or Creative Dictator?
In a great agency, with a great creative director, the good work becomes great work, and the best ideas win…regardless of who birthed them. But that system can go astray if the creative director starts pushing his or her own ideas every single time. Maybe they are the best. Maybe they are just ok. Maybe they are terrible. The creative director has to be selfless, and cut everything that isn’t up to par. And yet, many agencies suffer from creative directors who cannot see past their own “killer” ideas.

A Hashtag Is Not a Social Media Campaign

Halloween Advertising


It doesn’t take much, but a quick paradigm shift is often all it takes to go from the desert to an idea oasis.

There’s Always Another Way
Time and again, whether you’re a creative or any other member of the agency, you’ll be asked to solve a problem. Relish that challenge.

The Linguistics of Patton Oswalt
Listen to comedian Patton Oswalt. He can make your good copy great, and your great copy world class.

How To Come Up With Great Ideas
Here are eight ways to generate ideas that you should always have in your back pocket; or better yet, front of mind.

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