One of the most brilliant print ads I have ever seen was of a Poker magazine.
The ad was hilarious, creative and relevant to the brand. Immediately after seeing it, I realized that I have stumbled upon a stroke of genius, an example of advertising brilliance.
I also thought, that I found a unique display of creativity.
That is where I was wrong.
With the passing of time, I came across a lot of fantastic ads which at first glance seemed different from the Live Poker ad, but analysis revealed that there was a pattern which bound them all together. In all of those ads, the focal point was either a benefit or an effect, and those benefits or effects were presented in one common way. An exaggerated way.
At that time, I was already beginning to believe that maybe, creativity was more decipherable than I always considered it to be. Maybe, there were underlying patterns that drove the creative wings of marketing. And when I discovered that the adverts of a poker magazine, a wide-angle camera lens and a shoe polish could be described using one single principle, I knew that I found the first pattern that connects great print ads.
And that pattern was the first of the eleven methods I had eventually discovered; The Power of Exaggeration.
The basic idea was pretty simple. In the method, the marketer starts with identifying the benefit the product/service is offering, and then finds ways of amplifying the benefit to make the visual stand out and appeal to the consumers. By amplifying or exaggerating the benefit, the marketer gets the license to use out of the box visuals and elements which can attract the consumers and make the ad stand out.
that pattern was the first of the eleven methods I had eventually discovered; The Power of Exaggeration.
But there is a risk that is associated with this method. Though the marketer knows that she is exaggerating the benefit, the consumers might not realize that. what if, the consumers believe exactly what they see and expect the product to deliver that exaggerated benefit? If that happens to be the case, this method of exaggeration might create a hype and expectation that the product cannot possibly meet. So where do the advertisers draw the line while making such ads?
There are many advertisers out there who don’t really draw that line. They focus on the benefits and keep promoting them in their amplified form. The ads they make might work well in the short-term, but in the longer term, those are likely to face the adverse effects of over-promising. However, our discussion isn’t about those who do not draw the line, but about those who do. To be precise, our discussion, is about the way they draw the line without curbing any part of the exaggeration.
Because the ads which get the right balance, are the ones that get elevated from the level of Good Ads, to the legion of Great Ones.
Method 1.A. Amplifying the benefit, but keeping it light with the use of humor:
Visual Driven Ads
- Identify the benefit
- Amplify it with visual elements
- Add humor to the mix by associating with common references
When you don’t really want your readers to take the ads’ meanings literally, it’s a good idea to use humor in the ad. You want them to notice the ad because of its exaggeration, but at the same time you also want them to know that the benefits specified are slightly exaggerated. In fact, it’s of utmost important that the consumers consider the benefits to be slightly exaggerated; because this consideration is going to keep her from losing her trust in the brand. So, the challenge here is to find the optimum level of exaggeration which is good enough to attract the onlookers, and yet grounded enough to keep them believing in the brand’s messages.
The challenge here is to find the optimum level of exaggeration which is good enough to attract the onlookers, and yet grounded enough to keep them believing in the brand’s messages.
This method is in fact a very commonly used and successful one. This is also a favorite among marketers and advertisers as ads made in this mould tend to make it easier for the makers to meet the objectives of the ad; like attracting consumers with the ad and getting the brand ‘s message through to them. To get a better idea of how this method works, let’s walk through an example.
The ad placed above, one of Nugget Shoe Polish (developed by Jupiter Drawing Room, South Africa) is one of the first ones which steered me to explore creative print ads; and eventually led me to find this method. This ad is focusing on the core benefit Nugget is offering, which is its ability to make the shoes shine . The advertiser amplified this benefit in the ad by associating it with the reflecting ability of a mirror. Then he made the story more interesting and relatable by using a scenario where mirrors are normally used, and then by replacing the mirror in the scene with the polished shoe.
This ad works very well, firstly because it is memorable enough due to its way of exaggerating the benefit. Secondly, due to the addition of humor, the audience of this ad learns not take the message of the ad literally. However, even though the audience avoids accepting the exaggerated message, s/he would still develop positive perception about the brand. S/he starts to believe that even though the reflection on the polished shoe would never measure up to the reflecting ability of a mirror, the shining ability of the product might still be good enough for the his/her needs. That is the power of exaggeration; the audience will always believe that at least some part of the claim is true. And if the audience likes the ad, then there’s a good chance that their feeling will translate to a favorable purchasing decision.
Best if used by: The Brand which has a light or playful reputation among its users
More Examples of The Power of Exaggeration:
Let’s retrace the steps of this method by analyzing the following ads. .
- Identify the benefit: The lenses can capture images in a wide-angle
- Amplify it with visual elements: Make the angle as wide as (or more than) 180 degrees in the visual.
- Add humor to the mix by associating with common reference: It may seem that the photographer is taking pictures of the sea, but actually with his wide-angle lenses, he is capturing something else 🙂
- Identify the benefit: The company can repair car windshields very quickly
- Amplify it with visual elements and by associating with common references: Exaggerate the repair time by showing that the glass is changed almost immediately after it was damaged.
- Add (dark) humor to the mix by associating with common reference: Introduce a scenario where a person is shot through his car’s windshield and even before his body was moved, the windshield got repaired. Though some readers may not like the way death was used in this ad, most will know not to take it seriously because of the extent of exaggeration that was used in highlighting the benefit.
And here comes the Live Poker ad.
- Identify the benefit: Become the King of Bluff
- Amplify it with visual elements and by associating with common references: Exaggerate the ability to bluff to such an extent that even completely impossible scenarios can be overcome.
- Add humor to the mix by associating with common reference: The ad shows a meeting of KKK (Anti African-American group), and highlights that an African-American is so good at bluffing, that he is actually present as a participant in the meeting 🙂
Method 1.B. Amplifying or Exaggerating the benefit or effect, and associating it with a negative outcome
Visual Driven ads, but copy plays a very important role as well
- Identify the benefit or effect the product in question is offering
- Amplify the benefit/effect
- Associate it with a potential negative outcome
Not all brands can use a light approach, as some brands deal with very serious issues. Those brands, and many others, often use the amplification method in this slightly different way. So, instead of using humor, they use the negative outcome that might/would take place if the ad’s message is ignored. This method works particularly well when the readers truly want to avoid the negative outcome due to its potential severity.
There are two major differences between the earlier method and this one. Firstly, in the earlier method, exaggeration was used to make sure that the consumers become convinced to get advertised benefit, but in this method the same thing was done for opposite reasons. Secondly, in the earlier one the marketer doesn’t want the consumer to think that the benefit is being portrayed in an amplified way, but here the marketer knows that even if the consumer suspects or thinks that, s/he will still try to avoid the advertised effect at any cost.
Examples of ads which match this method include many Anti Smoking, Anti Speeding and other social awareness related campaigns. In some of those anti smoking ads, the lethal effect of cigarettes is portrayed in an accelerated way. So instead of showing smoking as a habit that slowly kills a person, the ads often present the habit as an equal to an instant killing machine. Such ads amplify the effect to communicate the inevitable negative outcome (death) that the smoker will face if s/he doesn’t quit. So even if the reader thinks that the portrayed effect might have strayed from reality, s/he will still try to avoid the effect.
Such ads work very well with social awareness campaigns as people find it hard to ignore the negative outcomes associated with such causes.
Best if used by: The Brands which are aiming to save the users from a potential hazard, discomfort or danger. Or in other words ,the brands which are trying to offer the users safety can use such ads effectively
More Examples to see how Power of Exaggeration Works:
- Identify the benefit or effect the product in question is offering: Driving while being drunk might cause lethal consequences
- Amplify the benefit/effect: Amplify/accelerate the lethal part while keeping it connected with drunk driving
- Associate it with a potential negative outcome: Associate the drink with a gun and the car with a bullet
When used with care, both these “exaggeration patterns/methods” are very effective in converting good ads into great ones. There are many wonderful ads out there, which can be deciphered using this single pattern. So, if you have come across any of them, feel free to share that with us in the comment section.
Also, there are a lot of other ads, which are masterfully planned and beautifully executed. To know which of the Eleven patterns decipher those ads, subscribe with your email address, and get an update when the articles discussing those patterns are uploaded.
Till then, take part in the discussion, share your thoughts, and maybe start a debate. But most importantly, help another friend by sharing this post and give your valuable inputs here so that our knowledge and experiences in this field gets further developed.
The advertisements used in this article was used for review purpose only.
This article is the first part of the series “11 Advertising Tricks to Make Good Print Ads Great”. Subscribe via your email address to see how that unfolds. Until then,