Advertising Hack 04: Before and After Effect

When we search the internet for weight loss programs, what is the one common thing we find in most of those websites?

The “before and after” pictures of users.

Most of the weight loss programs out there use this specific technique to convert the onlookers into participants. By showing the “before and after” effect of their program, they create desire among the onlookers and lend an air of credibility. A close example of that will be the ad below:

Before and After Marketing on the Mark
Advertising Agency: Alaaddin Adworks, İstanbul, Turkey
Creative Director: Murat Doğu, Art Director / Retoucher: Ferdi Çağlayan, Copywriter: Moris Hasan

Our today’s post is not about discussing any weight loss program. The internet is already full of them. We will rather discuss a way to increase the weight of advertisements; the way which has been overly used by hair fall solution providers and weight loss programs. The way of using before and after effect of a product in advertisement.

This technique, however, has an inherent risk. The ads made using this technique depends largely on the claim the product makes. And when it came to making that claim, some advertisers had taken the “creative liberty” and made exaggerated promises to the users. As a result, the trust in the product and, to some extent, the technique has diminished slightly. It’s still possible to use this method effectively, but the advertiser needs to be delicate and careful in managing consumer expectation. If that can be ensured, the ads can be highly successful.

Now comes the question, “How to use it successfully?” There are in fact two answers to this. Because “The Before and After Effect” can be used in two ways; and we are going to call them the Solution Angle, and the Problem Angle. Let’s see how they work:

Method 4.A : Before and After- The Solution Angle

Visual Driven Ad


  1. Identify the problem your product is going to solve
  2. Present that problem using visual elements, in one part of the ad (usually left side)
  3. Present the solution using similar visual elements in the second part
  4. Add the copy/tagline/slogan to connect the images with the product
  5. Delicate and Careful:
    1. Try to keep the claim (solution’s effect) as realistic as possible
    2. If you are jokingly exaggerating the benefit to make the ad more interesting, keep it simple so that the audience also gets the joke.

In this method, the advertiser at first has to establish the problem using visuals. And once that’s done, the second part is about showing what the solution can do to the problem.

Let’s have a look at how this method actually works, with an example:

It starts with selecting the problem your product is going to solve; like loss of hair, insect attack, weight gain, etc. In our example, we are going to use a fictional product M, which is a traffic alert app. This app will notify the users the current traffic situations and also suggest alternate and faster routes.

First step is identifying the problem the product is going to solve. The problem here is that people are spending way too much time on road, due to traffic jam. One potential solution which might mitigate people’s suffering is notifying them beforehand about the traffic condition and letting them know the fastest route. Product M is going to do exactly that.

After the problem is identified, we need to highlight the problem using visual elements. Rather than trying to present the whole traffic jam scenario visually, we are going to take a time period and see how traffic jam affects the activities during that period. Let’s take 7 to 10 PM; the period when working people come back home from their workplaces.  During this 3 hour window, due to traffic jam, most of them can complete only the following jobs: come out of office, spend hours in traffic jam and (maybe) reach home.

Start with identifying and visually presenting the problem your product is going to solve
Start with identifying and visually presenting the problem your product is going to solve

Now that we have visually highlighted the problem, we are going to show how the solution is going to improve the situation. We already know that Product M is going to save users’ time by directing them towards alternate faster route. Here, rather than focusing on the “save time” part, we are going to say that the product has made the users’ life faster; meaning that the users will be able to do more in the same 3 hour window. With the help of the app, within the same time period, the user can now reach home, watch Lord of the Rings and have dinner.

Exaggeration: Lord of the Rings is a movie with run-time over 3 hours. (It’s a joke)

Before and After Marketing on the Mark
Use similar images to visually present the solution as well

Now that we have shown the effect of the product, it’s time to use copy and logo of the product to connect it all together. And once that’s done, we have our advertisement.

Before and After Marketing on the Mark
Before and After Final Ad
Be Delicate and Careful : Will the app really be able to suggest alternative routes which is going to save users’ time significantly? If it does, then making the above mentioned claim is justified. If not, then the advertiser should resort to using any of the other Advertising Hacks.

Best if used by: Brands that provide direct and visible solutions to problems or/and Brands that want the consumers to take any type of action.

Some More Examples of the Before and After Effect: Solution Angle

One of my favorite ad series in the “before and after” mould is the one promoting the Tinka Lottery. This series shows how winning a lottery can change the social and economic standing of a player. For example, in the ad placed below, it’s shown that the person who hasn’t participated in the lottery is the chauffeur and the person who won it is the passenger. This also shows that the chauffeur can change her position just by winning the lottery.

Before and After Marketing on the Mark
Tinka Lottery: Limo Advertising Agency: Publicis, Peru Executive Creative Director: Erik Vervroegen General Creative Director: Jose Razuri Art Director: Tay Pan Chu Creative Director: Bruno Reggiardo Senior Copywriter: Carlos Banda Art Director: Marjorie Vardo / Marcel Illustrator: La Boca / Monsieur L’agent Global Print Manager: Jean/Luc Chirio Art Buyers: Lauriane Dula, Lys/Aelia Hart

Another ad in this series shows how the seller in a jewelry shop can change fortune and be in the position of the buyer by winning the lottery.

Before and After Marketing on the Mark
Tinka Lottery: Jeweler
Advertising Agency: Publicis, Peru, Executive Creative Director: Erik Vervroegen, General Creative Director: Jose Razuri, Art Director: Tay Pan Chu, Creative Director: Bruno Reggiardo, Senior Copywriter: Carlos Banda, Art Director: Marjorie Vardo / Marcel, Illustrator: La Boca / Monsieur L’agent, Global Print Manager: Jean/Luc Chirio, Art Buyers: Lauriane Dula, Lys/Aelia Hart

Method 4.B: Before and After- The Problem Angle

Visual Driven Ad


  1. Identify the problem your product is going to solve
  2. Present that problem using visual elements, and use both the parts of the visual to highlight the problem
  3. Add the copy/tagline/slogan to connect the images with the product
  4.  Be Delicate and Careful

In this second method, the advertiser uses both the sides to focus on the problem. There are many ways to do that, but the most commonly used way would be to introduce the effect of the problem in the second image. The first image, in this technique, would show how the situation was before the problem affected it. And then the second image would show how the situation has worsened because of the problem.

The Amnesty International Uruguay Campaign was a heartbreaking campaign which used the before and after technique. This campaign remembered the people, who were tortured and disappeared during the military dictatorship in Uruguay, Argentina and Chile.  It took the memories of families which had the missing member present. But then they recreated that same memory without that member to show the irreparable loss the family is suffering.

Before and After Marketing on the Mark
Amnesty International Uruguay: Claudio
Advertising Agency: Lowe Ginkgo, Montevideo, Uruguay, Chief Creative Officer: Gabriel Román, Executive Creative Directors: Fernando De Clemente, Sebastián Mir, Jorge González, Creative Directors: Gonzalo López Baliñas, Diego Román, Art Directors: Agustín Acosta, Álvaro Díaz, Luis Meyer, Copywriters: Mateo Vidal, Camila De Simone, Photographer: Gustavo Germano, Account Managers: Marcelo Bonomi, Victoria Martin,

Additional Example of the Before and After : Problem Angle

Advertisers often use another way while using this technique. This way would be to keep the problem constant in both the images; to establish that the problem is going to persist no matter what.

The next example is a very smart take on this technique. Have a look yourself to see what makes it special.

Before and After Marketing on the Mark
Reynolds Permanent Marker: Stain
Advertising Agency: JWT, Tunis, Tunisia, Creative Director / Copywriter: Georges Yammine, Art Director: Moez Tarifa

It’s an ad of a permanent marker, not a washing powder.

The ad takes advantage of the before and after framework in a clever way. It positions the ad in a way that the audiences will expect a solution to pop up. But instead of providing that solution, it has persisted with the problem, which was caused by the product.

Why do these ads work?

  1. The prime reason is that these ads give people something to aim for. We, human beings, feel safer when we know where we are going. These ads tell us exactly where the product will take us. In the simplest of ways, these ads show us the future. And who doesn’t love that?
  2. By stating the after effect with certainty, the company shows that they know their product very well. The confidence they show in their product positively affects the audience as well.
  3. The “before and after” effect gives the product credibility. The visual element that represents the solution helps the users believe in the claim. However, playing with consumers’ trust is never a good idea. So, it’s important to only use this technique when the claim is true. Otherwise the strategy will backfire in the long run.
  4. Another factor that helps the success of such ads is people’s desire to get rid of problems. These ads show that the product can to solve unpopular problems, which in turn creates desire for the product.

Among the 11 Advertising tricks, this method is one of the simplest. Yet it would be unwise to mistake its simplicity for ineffectiveness. In fact, because of its simplicity, this type of ads conveys its message more efficiently. It becomes easier for the audiences to comprehend the message, due to the simple and minimalist nature of the ads.

The before and after effect is being used in advertisement for a long time now. But the trick hasn’t lost its charm and remains effective when used with care.

The advertisements used in this post were for review purposes only. And special thanks to Ads of the World  for the hi-res images and credits.

This article is part of the series “11 Advertising Tricks to Make Good ads Great”. The first three parts talked about the Power of Exaggeration, Power of Absence and Power of Literal Expression.

Join the visitors who are receiving regular updates and uncover the underlying patterns that define creativity in marketing
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.
let your friends know, Share!