It’s tempting to go all-out. You’ve got a product you want to shout about, so why not let rip? Here’s why not. The ad you’ve paid for can only say so much. There’s a finite space in which to get your message across. What’s the enemy of messaging? Prattle.
What’s the main reason why people remember an ad? A survey found that the primary determinant is whether it’s funny. Brevity, as the bard had it, is the soul of wit (quite an assertion from such a wordy chap), so cut the waffle. Give the message, make it entertaining, then get out.
What Does this Mean for Effective Advertising?
There are four elements to successful minimal advertising.
- Establish the USP. What makes your product special? How does it solve a customer’s problem better than the rest?
- Make it easy for the customer to access your message. If it’s too much hassle to activate the ad, by having to click through for instance, you’ll miss out on exposure.
- Be creative. If your ad people can come up with an original, striking and, preferably, funny ad message, then you’ve got traction.
- Demonstrate ethics. Show that you’re on the right side of the argument. Sustainability and inclusivity are the watchwords – make sure you’re speaking them.
If your ad can demonstrate some or all of these, then you’ve got the minimalist approach cracked. Take, for instance, street advertising. Most instances of this kind of OOH have a limited time to make their mark. It might be a poster that has a matter of seconds to land its message before the intended viewer walks past.
Strip it Back
A great example is the KitKat bus stop ad that simply has an online diary page, with the day completely swamped with Zoom meeting appointments. Swamped, that is, apart from two rows, that have been filled with two KitKat fingers. The inference is clear and works in tandem with the well-known strapline ‘Have a break’.
Let Previous do the Work
The beauty of the KitKat ad is that the slogan doesn’t actually feature at all. The heavy lifting has already been done by prior ad campaigns, so much so that it’s unnecessary to iterate the strapline again. Just a hint is enough. Genius.
On the subject of which, Guinness got a lot of mileage out of the word ‘genius’ just up there, on its own, in the Guinness font. Great shorthand for a clear message.
Beware: TV is Another Country – They Do Things Differently There
Regarding Guinness, their ad featuring a panoply of stimuli, with surfers negotiating turbulent waves amid literal white horses is often praised as one of the best TV ads ever. So, although less is usually more, sometimes more – it must be said – is, in fact, more.
However, this only really holds true for video, which is a canvas that can accommodate a high level of information. And there’s a place for minimalism in video too. It can certainly cut through.
Get to the Point and Go
When a company is trying to make an impact in pretty much any form of advertising, it pays to pare back the peripherals. Be brief. But funny.