Anatomy of an Ad

by Ian Doescher


Several things go into making a great ad, and in this article I’d like to talk about at least a few of them. I’ll do this by sharing an ad from one of our beloved clients, Pioneer.  Here’s the full ad:

Pivot Group - Anatomy of an Ad

1. Branding: the first thing to notice is this ad is that is supported by established brand guidelines. Before our designer ever sits down to design the ad, certain things are already decided: the way the logo will be presented, the fonts for headlines and body text, the colors (though obviously this ad is black and white), elements like the circle overlay around the image, the thick bars behind the headline, and so on. These are elements of Pioneer’s brand that were established, via a brand guide, long before this ad was ever produced. Decisions about branding should be made based on the overall story the company is telling.

Pivot Group - Anatomy of an Ad

2. Headline: a good headline can be compelling, informative, clever, or (hopefully) all three. It should draw readers in and give them a sense of what the ad is going to be about. Sometimes, a play on words is involved (as in this ad). Other times, it’s something that catches people’s emotions, particularly through humor or deep feeling.

Pivot Group - Anatomy of an Ad

3. Offer: a good offer helps make a good ad, because it increases the value proposition of what you are presenting. A really great offer will grab people. Free HD for a year? That’s compelling… tell me more. You don’t always have to discount your products and services or give away something for free. But it never hurts.

Pivot Group - Anatomy of an Ad

4. Imagery: Finding just the right image for your ad can be tricky, but it will help immensely. In this case, the imagery Pioneer uses is part of its brand guide. In other words, Pioneer has defined a certain style of lifestyle photography that is appropriate for its brand. We see people enjoying their services, having a great time with each other. The imagery emphasizes the personal connections that telecommunications services can enable.

Pivot Group - Anatomy of an Ad

5. Copy: the copy should be clear and direct. The offer, the benefits and the “why” should be concisely stated. Good copy gets the point across as quickly as possible, but also reemphasizes the overall brand messaging and brand voice. Don’t say more than you need to, but don’t leave anything essential out. Finally, it goes without saying (I hope!) that your copy should be free of any grammar or spelling errors.

A great ad doesn’t just happen. Instead, it’s a combination of factors, each carefully considered, which come together to create something special. Below is one final example for you to consider on your own, a recent Pivot ad for Audix microphones. See for yourself how branding, headline, imagery and copy combine to make a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Pivot Group - Anatomy of an Ad

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