Style versus subtance

10/19/2009 at 12:48 PM Leave a comment

AlexScott Porter, copywriter for GCG Marketing, loaned me a book titled “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Ads” by Luke Sullivan. In the opening pages, the author posed the question, “If an advertisement is memorable, does that make it good?” Think about that for a moment while I write a memo.

(Note to self: return the book to Scott, you’ve had it since July.

Okay, back to the question.

To me, Sullivan’s thought relies heavily on the context and placement of the advertisement. An advertisement can be memorable, but there is a big difference between ‘establishing’ and ‘established’ brands.

At Zag, we serve a lot of clients that are still new to marketing themselves, so the number one goal for any of the projects I execute is to inform and create awareness for the brand or product – in this case, the advertisement has to balance information and attention-grabbing visuals to serve its purpose: battle the clutter of today’s fast-paced, attention-deficit society.

When a brand is already synonymous with the product it sells, I believe they is much more leeway to make an advertisement that has little or nothing to do about the product. It won’t necessarily be a good, informative advertisement, but market leaders are there for a reason. Here is an example by Levi’s. I love the visuals and presentation, but a clear message is tough to identify:

For the businesses we cater toward, the main struggle is achieving the right balance of style and substance to make their advertisements and collateral materials shine. We live in a era where the average American sees 3,000 advertisements a day and an acceptable return rate on direct mail campaigns is two percent.

There are established brand leaders with deep pockets and there are budding businesses that want exposure. This is what makes the creative process exciting for a writer and an art director of a small agency. We have to make the most with what we have, and to me that requires the resourcefulness of McGuyver. Who doesn’t like McGuyver?

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Talk about a grand opening… The good, the bad, and the confusing

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