Please Let The Copy Breathe

One of the first things you learn in “How To Make Ads 101” is the need to let copy, or the visual, lead. One or the other, not both.
Lewis Lazare notes in his column today, what happens when you have a strong copy campaign that’s executed in a design heavy manner.

Ah, the urge to be arty. It must be tough for many creatives at ad agencies in Chicago and around the country to resist the inclination to let their creative instincts run wild when designing print campaigns.
We quickly got the feeling that the creative team from BBDO/Chicago that was responsible for a new print and outdoor effort for Knob Creek bourbon were in something of a show-off mode when they created the new campaign breaking this week.
Our first reaction was “too busy.” Each execution is a collage of images, including a bourbon glass, the distinctive Knob Creek bottle itself, a bar scene and some other bits and pieces. While each of the images by itself has merit, putting them together leaves the eye struggling to decipher the overarching message.
The potent copy helps, though it isn’t really as directly connected to the visuals as we’d like. We especially appreciated the strong stand for individuality expressed in copy lines such as “At some point in time, a man switches from ‘I’ll have what he’s having to ‘I’ll have what I’m having,'” and “The presence of a barstool shouldn’t prevent you from standing for something.”
With copy this strong, why was the ad rendered in type so small that it seems an afterthought in relation to the visuals?



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.