What Gets Your Attention?

What makes an advertisement effective? It must be easy to read, it must have a clearly defined message that stands out — preferably one that can be read in a few seconds — and it must be interesting.

This weekend I looked through the magazine that comes in the New York Times with several other people, and we discussed some of the full-page ads that had these characteristics. Several of the ads caught our attention because of the beautiful images, or bold statements in large text, but it wasn’t immediately obvious to everyone what the ads were about.

My conclusion is that this isn’t important, because the ads are targeted toward specific people. For example, anyone affected by prostate cancer will probably stop to read an ad that has the word “Prostate” in large text. Even if they did not know enough about prostate cancer to get the initial statement,  they will be compelled to read the smaller text to find out more. If anything, these ads seem more effective, because they catch us slightly off guard, just enough to pique our interest, but not enough to obscure the message.

I recently read a book by Chip Kidd Called, “The Cheese Monkeys,” that illustrates this point. The main characters, 2 graphic design college students and their eccentric teacher, are as piquant and unique as Limburger cheese. To make the point that advertising must be interesting and concise to be effective, the teacher drops his students off on a road in the middle of winter, each one with only a marker and an empty sheet of poster board. Each person is left to their own desperate devices to come up with a slogan that will make someone stop and pick them up to drive them back to campus. The direct approach “Please Help!” wasn’t nearly as effective as another student’s approach: Standing in a bright red dress, with no coat, in the freezing white snow.

At DDA, every project is an exercise in creating an effective message through slogans, taglines, logos, and content. The writers hone this skill every day, but everyone is invited to contribute to this process. DDA is one of the experienced advertising agencies in the Philadelphia area when it comes to helping clients present their products and services in a unique and interesting way, whether it is through website design, logo design, brochures and mailers, advertisements, or trade show graphics.