What’s more important in an AD: words, graphic design, or both?

  • Essentially the question is – when you see an ad, or a TVC or a DM piece, what catches your eye more? Words? Design? Or are both equally important? LinkedIn Question by: Steve Olenski

Advertising, even in its most basic form, is expected to “influence” human behaviour in some way. To do this, advertising should first attempt to stimulate at least one of the 5 senses of the target – eg. see, hear, touch, smell and taste – in order for him/her to develop a perception about the ad. This stimulation will contribute to development of “A” or the “Awareness” stage of the simple AIDA (Awareness-Interest-Desire-Action) process / model.

In case of print advertising (eg. Press ad, DM) the first stimulant is the visual appeal whether by image / typography / graphic / color / layout, etc. that attracts human attention first. If this stimulant is powerful enough, the target goes on to the 2nd stage – i.e. taking Interest in the piece of communication (or simply, reading the headline and trying to relate Visuals with the headline to understand message).

In case of TV too the opening visual / scene draws attention first – but here, due to uniqueness of the medium, sound (eg. music, dialogue, or both) – or sometimes “silence” – also plays an important role, albeit marginally less than visual.

In case of Radio, the sound is the first stimulant. In experiential advertising / marketing, taste and smell could be the first stimulant too in some cases.

However, once the first stage is successfully addressed, the use of words / text (in case of Print) script / storyline / characters (TV and Radio), etc. become extremely important for sustaining Interest, generating desire and driving action among the target. For total advertising message delivery, other / additional elements complement / contribute to the importance of the ad.

Or in other words, for an advertising to be successful, visual, words, graphic design, message, context, etc. are all important – even though what catches eye / senses first could be visual (print)/ sound (radio) or both (TV).

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About shantanu.sengupta
I'm a passionate Strategic Marketing professional who deeply understands the interplay of Technology, Collaboration and Design that drives brand innovation and growth in a post-recession world today. I believe that marketing solutions cannot be found by referring to historical case studies, esp. since no two marketing problems are the same. As a result, instead of adhering to a jargonised approach to marketing, I follow Design Thinking principles, challenge existing norms and processes, and search for innovative ways to solve marketing problems. I specialize in developing and implementing marketing and communication strategies across B2C and B2B channels, with a clear focus on brand development and customer engagement that increases future brand value.

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