Visual creativity in advertising

Creative advertising today, arguably, relies less on the copy, but more on the visuals to tell a story. This is because people naturally love digesting visual content than reading plain texts. It’s also easier and more entertaining.

In his 2015 article on visual marketing, Ritu Pant of the Business to Business Community, explicates that visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text and tend to make a longer-lasting impression. This actually reminds us of an old Chinese saying: “One picture is worth ten thousand words”.

Some advertisers, like Nike, know this reality pretty well and have been doing great in this business. How about one of its print ads below?


This is, I think, a very simple, yet powerful ad. The striking graphic shows the complex design of Nike trainers and the connection to the cotton spindle suggests they’re made from natural products. The Nike tick is a well-known trademark. Obviously, we don’t need to be told the name of the product.

As students like we are now, how can we evaluate this kind of ad or go even further to create a visually engaging and creative ad ourselves?

A definite answer can be as difficult as that question, I believe.

But Arthur Kover, author of the “copywriters’ implicit theories communication”, argues that the use of unusual – and therefore surprising – pictures or, in the case of television advertising, pictorial sequences, can make our ads creative and stand out visually. Such ads will force the reader to think about what is said for a split second, and then the penny drops.

However, Rossiter and colleagues, who author “Visual creativity in advertising: a functional typology”, warn that “while visual creativity is becoming dominant in multinational and global advertising campaigns because picture interpretation is basically universal, the interpretation of words, as in slogans and copy claims, is not”.

It’s important, thus, that we pay special heed on that, or risk jeopardizing our brand, like this Paddy Power’s ad “Immigrants Jump In the Back”.


The ad was meant to be a creative stunt, but was instead attracted public’s fury and then censured by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland for causing offense “merely to attract attention”, as The Guardian reported.

Taking both visual creativity and copy into account, Robin Landa, author of “Generating and designing creative ideas across media”, advises, saying that:

“How you visualize and compose your idea hinges on what you want, say, how you want to communicate it, to whom you are saying it, and with what nuance”.

Landa’s advice should be a great piece of reminder for us students and is worth exploring further.


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