The 4 Ingredients of Great Ads

Last week I had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation by Tim Kavander, Creative Director for Publics Toronto, entitled ‘The 4 Pillars of Great Ads‘. As a creative person Tim gets asked all the time, “What is the secret formula of a great ad?” Tim made it clear that there is no secret potion to creating a great ad as it really is very much an art form that changes and shifts according to context and other variables. Although there may be no full-proof equation, he did state that there are 4 key ingredients that all ads should have and at times there are more emphasis on some ingredients over others.

I completely agree with Tim’s view on a great ad and below I’d like to share with you ads that I’ve enjoyed and loved that fall within each of the different ingredients.

1) Originality

To stand out, something has to be special and unique. To catch on and be shared, it must be unexpected, different and thought provoking. It needs to push the envelope and leave you speechless. This ad by Save the Children will do just that:


2) Simplicity

Remove, remove, remove and when you are done, remove some more. There is a famous quote that says, “I wrote you a long letter because I didn’t have enough time to write you a short one.” Simplifying a message down to its core, is key. Watch how Volvo Trucks and Jean-Claude Van Damme make such a simple ad that hits the message home:


3) Consumer Insight

What is the consumer insight? My favourite section when writing the creative brief. If you can tap into this and clearly identify it, you have a home-run. Watch this grand-slam by Nike:


4) Emotional Impact

I’m a huge sucker for ads that are emotionally powerful. Tapping into someone’s emotions captures their attention and speaks to their heart. My father-in-law is a farmer so when I saw this ad by Ram Trucks, I felt proud of him but also for all farmers around the world:

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