Blog Post #2. Researching Print Advertisements


Figure 1. Created by Julian Koenig, this 1959 advertisement for Volkswagen was recognized by Advertising Age as the best advertising campaign of the 20th Century. This is also an example of what your captioned images should look like.

Imagine that you are the creative director in a small advertising agency that has recently landed your dream client. Your client might be a company that manufactures some sort of consumer product (e.g. sneakers, handbags, gadgets, food, or streaming services), it might be a real-world political candidate, or it might be an organization that wants you to create a public service campaign. The client is up to you.

In your first creative assignment (due 10/3), you  will develop two unique print advertisements for your client. These advertisements should not be variations on a theme that already exists. Your advertisements should represent a new creative direction for the client or they should fix problems that you have identified in existing print advertisements for products in that category.

Before class on Monday, September 26, you should have selected your client/product and recorded this information in the shared Google document. Once you have landed on a client/product, you should research existing print advertisements that fall within this category. Before the end of the day on Wednesday, September 28, you will write a short blog posts that summarizes key findings from your research.

With the help of print magazines, Google/Bing image search, and applications like “Texture” (known as “Netflix for magazines”), you should skim at least a dozen advertisements that fall within this category. (Don’t worry, you don’t need to write about all of these advertisements.) When you see particularly interesting or relevant advertisements, save the image, take a screenshot, or take a photo with your phone.  Please note that you can cast a wide net during this stage of the research process. For example, if you have decided to do something related to Nike footwear, you might examine all types of advertisements in the athletic footwear category.

As you skim these advertisements, take notes on what they have in common with one another as well as how they are different from one another. Pay particular attention to graphic design considerations, keeping in mind ideas introduced in lecture and in the White Space chapters. (You might also appreciate Steven Bradley’s series on gestalt design principles in Smashing Magazine.) Select three print advertisements that you will choose to reference in your blog post.

In approximately four paragraphs, summarize the most interesting things you discovered. In particular, your blog posting should address the questions listed below. You don’t need to answer each question one at a time, but you should be sure that your post hits all of these issues. Please do not use first-person in this posting.

  • What adjectives might you use to describe the dominant mood in these print advertisements?
  • Who do you perceive as the typical target audience for these advertisements?
  • What do you notice in terms of the use of type? Do these advertisements tend to use serif typefaces, sans-serif typefaces, or a mixture of the two? If it is a mixture of the two styles, does there seem to be a difference in which style is used for which purpose?
  • What do you notice in terms of the colors that are used in the advertisements?
  • What do you notice in terms of white space and layout? (Remember that white space is not always created with the color white.)  How do these advertisements focus the viewer’s attention?
  • What problems do you notice with these advertisements? These might be problems related to graphic design, they might be problems related to the advertisements’ messaging, or they might be problems with the overall creative concept?
  • What behavior or attitude is each of these sample advertisements attempting to provoke? Are they simply attempting to build the product brand? Are they specifically telling people to buy the shoe? Are they sharing information with the consumer about a new product category?

Please be sure to include the three print advertisements as right-aligned images in your blog posting. These images should also have a caption (e.g. “Figure 1. Sample advertisement for Apple Macbook Pro from the May 2016 issue of Wired Magazine“). I realize that the formatting can be a pain with the new version of WordPress, so please do not fret too much. It is probably easiest if you upload a large version of the image and then tell WordPress to make the image “small” and right-aligned. If the reader wants to see a larger image, they can click on the image to view it in their browser.

You can also reuse much of this analysis in the strategic document that you turn in along with your print advertisements on Monday (10/3). This is not considered “cheating” or “plagiarizing your own writing,” but (a) you will need to proofread and revise thoroughly before turning in the strategic document, and (b) you might need to modify some of your analysis in the strategic document based on your creative decisions.



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