Why Less is More in Advertising

If you live in any urban setting, you have have been surrounded by advertising. I have grown up in a blur of colour and text that has tried to guide me into a mindset that tells me what I need, also known as marketing. While I can appreciate some of the products available to us, there are many that simply escape my attention.

Advertising is an old trade that has seen rapid evolution. Can you believe ads 50 years ago used to look like this?

old chevy ad car chevolet text marketing.jpg

What makes a good ad?

The evolution of advertising in many ways has mirrored the importance of internet. People are no longer spending a minute to contemplate all the details on a piece of paper or on a billboard, but scrolling through hundreds of ads in an hour on their way to read an article or look at interesting pictures. The shorter attention span carries over to all types of advertising. While you speed by in a much faster car, your eyes catch less detail on outdoor ads than before. Attention can be whisked away in an instant – people are on phones in movie theaters and stadiums, no longer giving advertisers guaranteed views. People have become busier and more distracted, so how do you cut through the mass of content?

There are many ways to be memorable.

Sex. Fear. Emotion. Humour. There a number of appeals to a person but these four are, in my opinion, usually the most compelling.

Take a look at the appeals of sex and emotion in PETA ads and break it down.

laura vandervoort for peta.jpg

Most ads are lost in a blur of colour and text. Like most people, once I have seen an ad, it is very easy to forget it. As a copywriter, I am tempted to include as much information as possible into an ad, after all doesn’t everyone like to make an informed decision? Most of the time an ad is based around a shock factor and its surprising to see that the content, while it must be well-worded, doesn’t have to be complex.

I am a big fan of wordplay, such as the use of idioms to make memorable phrases, but even the clever words sometimes fail.  You will notice that some of the best ads use very few words to create intrigue in their message. Ads have moved towards minimalism to grab your attention easier, as there are less competing elements. A bonus is that ads with minimal elements also tend to provoke thought.


Advertisers know that the majority of communications from a company aimed towards an audience misses. Often there are elements out of the agency’s control, like identification with personal experiences or pre-existing conceptions of a product. What ads speak to you and do your friends also like the same ads?



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s