Creative use of space in print advertising

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An ad for the movie, Alice in Wonderland in the form of a cover-wrap in the front page of L.A. Times created a furore recently.  Some called it a shame on LA Times for selling it’s masthead. Reports said that the top editorial staff were initially against such a move but gave in to commercial considerations. Times of India would have wondered what the fuss was all about it – ‘if there is space, it is meant for ads’ is their motto. Consequently, we in India are used to 4-page ads acting as a full wrap for the daily or those annoying vertical shaped ads that make the front page unwieldy.

I have a soft corner for print ads that use the print medium to their advantage. Ads when planned well, can give precedence to editorial, respect the reader’s intelligence and yet make an impact for commercial purposes. They all need not necessarily take odd shaped ads or intrude into editorial to make an impact. There several creative ways to use the newspaper medium, chief among them being the topical ad. The best recent example, was the Australian ad for Veet depilatory products – clever and memorable. We also had Aviva Life Insurance thanking Sachin’s coach (guru) they day after he scored a double century in an ODI recently. Topical ads have a cheeky quality about them – done well they can have an impact much beyond the one-day shelf life of a newspaper.

Among the other kind there is the innovative or odd shape, clever placement, using the newspaper’s structure etc. Toyota Prado took out an interesting ad in the Sydney Morning Herald recently. It wrapped the daily in a transparent sheet (almost like a cellophane, I guess):

This may be too close to what we are used to in India, what with an extra sheet in front of the newspaper and all that. But you don’t need an extraneous element always to make an impact. Some of the most effective ones simply use the newspaper’s structure. This ad simply used the page numbers on top of every page to link them with statistics pertaining to AIDS; for example on Page 6: million people in South Africa are living with HIV.

Click here for a higher resolution image.

And then there was this ad from Australia which aimed to create awareness about cancer. All they did was to create a bump at the bottom of the page in printing. Next to it was the message: if your mole starts to feel like this, see your doctor.

Even straight forward ads can go long way with the right placement. Check out these two ads: one for the launch of Toshiba Netbooks in the UK and the other to announce ‘borderless’ TV for LG, in Australia.

Sometimes, editorial from the newspaper can be linked to a brand’s promise. Continental soup positions itself as a cure for ‘three-thirtyitis’ – much like Snickers’ 4pm positioning I guess. They used clipping from the newspapers for this ad:

An ad inside the newspaper can serve a dual purpose, like this one for McDonalds, Australia:

Of course, you can create an effective print ad without resorting to any gimmicks – as many of the legendary copywriters did for centuries. When you have an opportunity to innovate it doesn’t necessarily have to be at the expense of the reader or the editorial content.


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  1. Sriram Iyer Reply

    Will you include today's VW spread in TOI as a good example?

  2. hi,

    i'm preparing a speech about creativity in print ads. I've found you're blog fascinating with great examples. Do you happen to have more examples of such creativity? is there a website that demonstrate more examples of this kind?


    eran yasur

    • Eran, thanks for the comment. You could try Adsoftheworld, Adland.TV, ibelieveinad and several others for reference on creative ads.

  3. Really really creative ads.. I am greatly inspired..

    That McD ad is simply awesome.. definitely grabs our attention.. 🙂

    “Creativity never has a boundary.. think beyond the sky”

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