Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

The Power of the Image

How creative and hybrid imagery can affect the effectiveness of your ads
While an explanation of value is an inherently good attribute of your client’s advertising, you may want to guide them toward image-heavy ads that touch on their consumer’s senses rather than sensibilities.

Often, our articles discuss sales techniques or your newspaper’s design in order to create the best consumer response. There is one thing that we don’t often discuss at Above the Fold and that is image construction. Since your advertisers value your advice, you may want to take some time to talk with them about the powerful impact images can have. Imagery is powerful because it is sensory, like touch and smell, and therefore more visceral than using words to convince a consumer of your client’s value. While an explanation of value is an inherently good attribute of your client’s advertising, you may want to guide them toward image-heavy ads that touch on their consumer’s senses rather than sensibilities.

First, however, you’ll want to do your research. Look into the ads that have won national and international awards for the verticals that you feature in your paper. These agency ads have a ton of overhead behind them, but they also have the research that determines that an image will be effective. There’s a reason that tongue-in-cheek print ads with very little text garner such immediate responses from consumers. What kinds of images speak to a local, regional or national attitudes about the products or services that your clients offer? Is there a way to use two images to creatively express a new idea? By hybridizing images, you can establish a new conversation about a product or service. This allows you to discuss a unique quality about your client’s product or service in a profound way without resorting to the use of text.

Also think about the logos of popular brands that stand out in your mind. Perhaps Apple or Nike. Both of these logos are immediately recognizable because of their graphic quality. They are prevalent in our consumer culture and express anything from good quality and reliability to controversy over labor laws and taxes. How is it that a simple image can start a discussion of many complex, emotional and sometimes global issues? Very few individual words have the power to bring up discussions with the varying diversity and magnitude that individual images do. Perhaps it is because images lack the specificity of words, and they therefore allow a broader discussion about their meanings, connotations and implications. Whatever the cause, the result is absolute; imagery can turn a lackluster ad into a star performer.

There are many ways to start the discussion to feature more imagery in your clients’ ads. But I advocate having a discussion with them in which you bring along some examples of great ads with little text. Identify why the ad works and explain the reasons to your clients as well. Then discuss with them some images that might describe their product or service. Brainstorm together and then let them think more about it. Chances are they will see evidence of your ideas before too long, and will be excited about new advertising possibilities in your next meeting. Be careful not to force the subject, because change does take time, especially if your client’s approach has been tried and true for years.

Using imagery as a primary source of information in advertising isn’t new, but it does remain uncharted territory for some, so keep that in mind when you talk to your clients. Show them that you’re excited about new prospects and ideas, and they are sure to dip their toes in the water.