Electro Image LLC

What exactly is advertising outside the box?

We are constantly being told to think outside the box when it comes to advertising. But what exactly does that look like in real life?

Advertising is everywhere. It’s in traditional locations, such as television, radio, and print. It’s on the bus you take to work. It’s behind the players in that baseball game – whether it’s high school kids or professional ball. There are even advertisements displayed on water towers and barns as you drive home down that country road. Advertising truly is everywhere.

In fact, a 2014 study by Media Dynamics revealed that adults are exposed to approximately 360 ads per day across all types of media, including television, radio, internet, newspapers, and magazines. Of those, only about 150 are acknowledged, with even less being influential enough to be persuaded to make a purchase. An ad that is not remembered will not make a sale. Hence, the reason to think outside the box when creating advertisements.

How can you make an amazing print design that makes an effective impact on consumers? Here are ten designs that are memorable and will hopefully result in a little “retail therapy” for your viewers, making it into that slim number of ads, approximately twelve advertisements per person, that are truly amazing print design ideas.

One: Use the Fold

A double-page ad for Adidas: Forever Sport utilizes the fold in the magazine to engage viewers. The ads place a woman athlete in various exercise poses such that opening and closing the page will create the illusion that she is stretching, doing crunches, or lifting weights.

There are other options for using the fold in this manner. A restaurant can use a face on one side with a forkful of food on the other to create the image of eating or a kids’ play place can put a trampoline on one page with a child mid-air on the other to create the illusion of jumping up and down.

Two: Remind People What They Have

Ads can help people be thankful for what they have by showing them how some people are without. For instance, an ad by Leo Burnett Warsaw advertising agency entitled COOKIES shows gingerbread man cookies, but the last one is missing a leg. The ad, which was released in December of 2004, is for Integracja, an association for Helping People With Disabilities In Poland.

Simone Mascagni promotes World Alzheimer’s Day with a repetitive message that reminds viewers of the challenges of the disease. Alzheimer’s causes disruptive memory loss, so patients need constant reminders throughout the day.

These advertisements encourage empathy and become effective through their ability to allow viewers to relate and feel sympathy.

Three: Make Use of the Columns

Ogilvy & Mather of Columbia promoted their client, Carulla Knives, by making use of the space between the columns in newspapers. They created a series of advertisements depicting vegetables and fish placed behind the text to simulate perfectly sliced food. They took this idea to the streets and used it on bus stop shelters where bars separated the waiting riders from the street and helped to develop the perfectly cut vegetables.

This idea would work for well for a bail bond service, which could use the text as bars from a jail cell and print an image of a person in the spaces between the newspaper text.

Four: Play Around With the Brand Name

A brand can become more than its name and grow into part of the lexicon of a group of people. For instance, Google has become synonymous with searching the internet, and individuals often say that they are Googling something. The brand name has become a verb that is officially listed in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary.

Target has grown its own fancy nickname of “Tar Jay,” which uses a fake French accent to make it sound upscale.

The public has created these names and meanings, but some brands have tried the same idea in their advertising. Claire Heppner, for instance, created the word “nutellable” to describe the delicious taste of the product Nutella.

Five: Paint with the Product

Sherwin Williams was definitely thinking outside the box with their animated jungle scenes using paint sample strips, developed by the McKinney Agency. Giraffes, flamingoes, and monkeys are all artistically “painted” with sample strips, and they move throughout the jungle in a graceful display of color.

In the same vein, Ogilvy & Mather Singapore used thousands of colored pencils to recreate a depiction of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” The advertisement, which was created to promote Faber-Castell’s “Artist Color Pencils,” is made up of sharpened color pencils of varying lengths arranged to form an image of the painting.

Six: Have Fun With A Holiday

Everyone celebrates something, whether it’s a loved one’s birthday or New Year’s Day. Take advantage of the festivities with a holiday-themed print design. FCB, United States, for instance, came up with a great print advertisement for Halloween, dressing Sharpie markers up as other types of pens and markers, using pen caps for costumes.

Krispy Kreme targeted the well-known Christmas carol, the Twelve Days of Christmas, with its 12 Days of Donuts holiday ad campaign. The advertisement by Nathaniel Cooper Creative ran through a variety of marketing styles, with its bold red logo color throughout each. Customers could view a special music video via QR code on the packaging or signage, and free coupon gift tags were available with the purchase of a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts.

Seven: Be Relatable

One of the easiest ways to convert an ad into a sale is to make it relatable. If a brand can associate itself with the same issues and troubles its consumers feel, it is more likely to be noticed.

For instance, an advertisement campaign for Aspirina Bayer painkillers makes headache pain relatable. The ad – by BBDO, Santiago, Chile – is called “Work Ache” and depicts the pain people feel when a headache interrupts their ability to work. One ad features a stapler that is painted to represent a man face down holding the sides of his head. Another is a butcher’s knife painted as a man’s pained expression. And one ad shows a man’s face on a hammer, representing how a headache can feel as if you are hitting your head against the wall.

Eight: Be Literal

Taking a brand to new heights using a literal interpretation is one way to make the ad stand out in the mind of consumers. There are many ways to make a literal advertisement for a brand. For instance, Reflex Spray’s ad for the London Marathon has a miniature re-creation of the city of London on the sole of a shoe. The shoe has literally run all over the city.

Another great example of an amazing print design that uses a literal interpretation in a creative way is the “Give A Hand to Wildlife” campaign for the World Wildlife Federation. The campaign, created by Saatchi & Saatchi Simko, Geneva, included several ads that involved actual literal hands painted to look like various animals, including a zebra, elephant, and toucan.

Nine: Use the White Space

You know that stubborn spot that just won’t come out in the wash? Tide knows all about it and went a long way to show that their product can make just about anything come clean. Tanja Siersbøl is the creative director responsible for the campaign, which shows spotted animals, like the dalmation and the leopard, with “clean” white spots where Tide has done its job.

A print ad for a teeth-whitening office used this same idea. With the tagline “We don’t like yellow,” they revealed typically yellow items – such as a lemon, banana, or rubber ducky – all in white.

Ten: Use Humor

Everyone likes a good laugh. Ads that take advantage of humor are usually ones that consumers share and talk about. A unique series of ads for StaSoft by Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg reveals piles of clothes that resemble caricatures of well-known tough guys, such as Chuck Norris, Sylvester Stallone, and Hulk Hogan. The ad read, “Softens even the toughest.”

Super Bowl ads are known for their use of humor, and in 2018, M&Ms was at the top of the pack with its ad featuring Danny Devito as the human version of the red M&M.

Think Outside the Box for your Print Design Ideas (and Win!)

Print design ideas can be stretched beyond the normal and exist “outside the box” in many ways including those listed above. Taking a step outside the box ensures that your readers are engaged and interested in your brand.


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