The Components of an Advertisement

We can factor an advertisement into seven important components;

1. The Headline

The Headline is the most read part of an advertisement. So advertisers try to tell maximum part of the product story through the headline. A headline will introduce the product or makes the promise statement or puts a question. It basically tries to attract the attention of the readers and create curiosity so the audience or reader sees further. The major types of headlines are:

  • Direct promise of benefit
  • News about the product
  • Curiosity or provocative, and
  • Command headlines

Direct headlines make a direct promise about how the product will benefit the readers. Readers are often interested in what is new in the product so the words ‘new’, ‘improved’, etc. are often used in headlines. Such headlines provide some new ‘information’ and are called news headline.

Sometimes the promise or benefit is not offered in the headline. Instead an indirect approach is adopted by either posing a question or making a provocative statement, the headline tries to create a lot of curiosity about the product. It also forces the readers or the audience to see the copy and the promise is made in the copy of the Ad. In command headlines, the readers are urged to buy the product by promising a reward. For example, ‘buy one, get one free’ or ‘buy for the price of two’. Usually they command or ask the consumers to buy.

Another type of headline is the select headline. This is directed at the headline scanners. Such a headline selects it own audience and can reach selected groups by either addressing them directly or by discussing their specific problems.

2. The Sub-Headline

This is not always used in ads. However, when the advertiser wants to say a lot at the beginning but the headline cannot do the job, then the subheading is used. The headline and subheading together can contain a longer message. The subheading usually spells out or elaborates the promise made in the headline or it stresses on the product’s unique features.

3. Slogan

It is a phrase or a sentence that describes the benefit derived from the product or one of the product’s most important attributes. The term slogan comes from the Gaelic words sluagh gairm, meaning battle cry. These days it is the battle cry in the field of sales and marketing. It consists of a single phrase by which an advertiser conveys an important idea, which will presumably lead readers or audience to remember and think favorably of this company. Slogan is thus a short and catchy phrase that gets the attention of the audience, is easy to remember and comes off the tongue easily. Slogan can of different types:

  • Slogan that emphasizes product or reward- every product has some reward to offer consumers. It may have some hidden quality that differentiates a product from the competitors.
  • Slogans that emphasizes action to be taken- the slogan might urge directly that you use the product or service.

4. Body Copy

When the headline usually makes a claim, the body copy elaborates upon it and provides supporting proof. When the headline poses a question, the subheading answers it. The amount of detail in an advertisement should be sufficient to answer the questions arising in the minds of a prospective buyer. And if the consumers require more details or information, then they can be requested to come back to the company for information booklets or can be invited to come to the retailer or dealer for more information or demonstration.

Sometimes the consumer wants a proof or evidence of the claims made in the advertisement. So proofs about quality, performance, durability, etc. are provided through arguments, proofs by experts, testimonials by users or through demonstrations in the body copy.

5. Visualization

The headline is a major attraction —getting device. Another device is the visual impact of the ad. This is the combination of the visuals used in the advertisements and the visual treatment given to other elements of the ad. This visual impact becomes strong if the idea has been properly visualized.

Visualization means to think in terms of visuals or pictures. And one need not be an artist or painter to be able to visualize as all it require is thinking.

For example think about the picture, which comes to your mind when you think the word ‘flower’. It could be a bouquet of flower or a garden full of beautiful flowers. These kind of perceptions need to be portrayed in the advertisements. A visualizer need not draw or paint these things but can just describe these and leave the drawing to the artists.

Visuals and pictures help people dream and project themselves in to another time, place, or situation. Pictures appeal to our hidden and suppressed emotions. Also pictures communicate ideas quickly and easily and also there is no chance of misinterpretation. Visuals not only attract attention, they hold the interest and often tell maximum part of the story. Visuals also identify the product, arouse interest, create a favorable impression of the product or the advertiser, clarify claims made in the copy, make demonstrations, emphasize the unique features of the product. And finally the visuals provide continuity for all advertisements in the campaign through the use of similar visuals.

6. Layout

Advertisement layout has two meanings. One means the total appearance of the advertisement, its design, the composition of the various elements. The other meaning is the act or process of placing the elements of advertisement (copy, visuals, etc) together.

A layout could be the first pencil sketch, which puts the idea on paper or could also be the final piece after finishing touches. Good layouts are unimaginative. The various stages of designing a layout are:

  • Thumbnail sketches– Advertising people usually work in pairs. A copywriter and a visualizer sit together and create ideas. The first thing they do is to come up with as many ideas as possible. And as they get the ideas they put them on paper, which is called thinking on paper. This helps in many ways-it records all the ideas options on paper, it gives some kind of a shape to the idea without using any expensive color, wasting much paper, etc. and without spending much time and efforts. In the thumbnail sketch the various elements of the advertisement are just schematically or diagrammatically represented. For example, a thick serrated line represents the headline. Thinner serrated lines represent the subheading and the slogan. Straight lines or dotted lines represent body copy. Boxes crossed inside represent visuals. Also thumbnail sketches are very small in size. Only the shape is proper-being proportionately smaller.
  • Rough sketches– in the rough stage, bigger layouts are made so that more details can be accommodated. Hand lettering is done for the headlines and other copy parts that are to be composed in bigger type sizes. A rough sketch of the visual is pasted. These rough layouts are presented to the agency creative director for approval. Then the rough layout is further polished.
  • Comprehensive stage– the rough layout is still small in size, with no color, with no proper borders and no proper lettering and visuals. Now it is enlarged to its actual size. All the copy is lettered or composed. Proper borders and other marks are put on the layout. Photographs and other visual are cut from other places or Photostatted and pasted. Some coloring-particularly using crayons, water colors, etc is done. This stage is called the comprehensive stage. As the name suggests this layout is easy to understand. This layout is presented to the client for approval. Once the client approves the layout, it is then ready for the final finishing touches.
  • Art work-this is the final stage of layout. Here care is taken to look into each minute detail. The copy is properly composed or lettered. Proper photographs, paintings, sketches, or graphics are used. Other elements like borders etc are properly places. Coloring is done. Finishing artists give the final touches. This stage is now ready to be printed. All these various stages of preparing the layout are beneficial in a many ways. First these stages save time, money and efforts. If you prepare a final layout without taking the approval and it gets rejected, then all the material used, efforts and time spend are wasted. Also working on only one idea curtails the various other possible options.

An advertisement layout starts with a blank piece of paper. What the layout artist does is to place the copy, visuals and other elements on it. This placing of elements of advertisement layout is not just mere decoration. What is required is a good, clear vision and interpretation of the selling concept of the story. A good layout allows all its elements-visuals, headlines, subheadings, body copy, charts, maps, logo, borders and other elements-to work together to do the job of telling the product story.

A good layout takes into consideration the principles of balance, proportion, unity, contrast, harmony, rhythm, and direction. And finally a good advertisement layout must be attractive, must create an appropriated mood or feeling, must have individually to stand out from the clutter of advertisements.

7. Trademark

The term trademark includes any word, symbol or device or any combination there of adopted and used by a manufacturer or merchant to identify his goods and distinguish them from those manufactured or sold by others in the market. Trademarks are important because of two reasons:

  • It increases the credibility of the firm because the buyer buys the product only after looking at the brand name.
  • Registration of trademarks prohibits duplication.

3 thoughts on “The Components of an Advertisement

  1. i needed information for my exhibition in school this is the one that worked for me thanks #DISQUS

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