What Graphic Designers Can Learn From Ad Campaigns

September 20, 2013 General 0 Comments

Learn From Ad CampaignsStudents and professionals who do graphic design develop their skills to create advertising campaigns. Hands-on practice is important for improving advertising skills, but graphic designers should also spend time learning by example.

By taking a look at recent ad campaigns, you can learn a lot more than just what the latest trends are. Check out these three campaigns and the lessons they teach.

Brand, Audience and Platform

To make any advertising campaign successful, you need to understand a company’s brand as well as your audience. Jetsetter, a travel agency, demonstrated their in-depth understanding of both in a highly effective Pinterest campaign.

Because they understood the appeal of their brand, they chose exactly the right medium and platform. As Luke Clum, a designer and marketer, explains on The Web Shoppe, “For a travel company like Jetsetter, enticing travel photos are among the most effective tools for drawing users deeper into their brand, as is anything that encourages visitors to imagine their ideal getaway.”

The designers not only wielded their best medium – photos – but also engaged their audience by asking them to upload their own. And those with the best photos won luxurious trips!

The Lesson: Make sure your medium and platform, which was Pinterest in this case, suit the brand, the audience, and the goal of the campaign. The theme should also be unified throughout.

Copyright Laws

Even successful campaigns can teach you a lot about making mistakes. During the 2008 presidential election, the famous red, white and blue “Hope” poster quickly took off as a symbol of the Obama Campaign.

The poster was designed by Shepard Fairey, a graphic designer and illustrator, but it was eventually revealed that Barack Obama’s pose was taken from a photograph shot by Mannie Garcia, a freelancer for the Associated Press.

Although Fairey said his work fell under the “fair use” doctrine, which is an exception to copyright law that lists “the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research,” as the U.S. Copyright Office states.

But since Fairey didn’t credit Garcia, it was considered copyright infringement, and Fairey and the AP press settled the case out of court.

The Lesson: Think twice before you borrow, build upon, or expand another person’s work – and make sure you fully understand copyright laws.

Relevance Rules

Graphic Designers often have to work fast, and those who collaborated with the Oreo brand team during the 2013 Super Bowl met wild success thanks to their quick thinking.

The opportunity was a power outage that brought the game to a halt. Oreo had already produced a commercial to air during the game, but it was the simple graphic they promoted on Twitter that everyone remembers. The image says “you can dunk in the dark,” and it was tweeted soon after the blackout began. 

This is another example of how important it is to choose the right medium, but it also shows how effective a relevant message can be. The more relevant an image is, the more it will resonate with its audience.

The Lesson: time and place matters, so keep your content relevant.

There are plenty of lessons to learn from ad campaigns, both successful and not-so-successful. As a graphic design student, remember that you can glean a lot of tips and tricks by keeping an eye on what works and what doesn’t.


What do you think?