When it comes to criticizing print ad designs, one must consider the theoretical, conceptual, technical, and moral aspects displayed.
Theoretical – This scope includes the do’s and don’ts involving the technicalities of the elements in a print ad. You must ensure that the copy and the visual should support each other to deliver a clearer message. Strengthen the ad by adding new elements or making the copy readable at a glance.
Conceptual – This aspect deals with the characteristics and originality of the message and to whom the ad is for, regardless of readability and clarity of the elements. Is the ad addressed and written in a manner or tone that appeal to the actual target audience?
Technical – This involves the process of bringing an ad concept to life, whether the photographer, graphic designer, or animator captured the exact picture you have in your head? It also concerns itself with the vividness of the colors and whether the materials used were able to conjure the message more effectively.
Moral – This scope is concerned with the values displayed on an ad. Is it demeaning or disparaging to a certain person or group of people? Is it sexually explicit? Is the overall design too violent? Are sex and violence used tastefully on the ad?
All aspects of print ad designs are subjective, which is why a print ad is determined as good or bad depending on the perception of people looking at it – their understanding of the ad, how its message comes across to them, and how their moral standards affect their perception of the ad.
As an exercise, here are some print ads and a short review of each. Try to consider the aspects as they were discussed and form your own criticism.
An ad of a beautiful woman rocking a signature dress and a fab hairstyle while sporting a black eye doesn’t seem like a well thought-out concept. Although it tries to put emphasis on the brand’s holistic salon, it ends up glamorizing domestic violence. It’s like the ad is saying, “Look beautiful even when battered.”
This is a very creative and witty ad, as it shows that you don’t have to be Chinese to eat at China Times. However, it would have been really great if the concept was original - Levy’s used the same concept during the 1960 in their Love Levy’s Campaign.
The execution is nice and the warping of the perspective adds to the ambiance, but only a person with a lot of patience and time to spare will be able to understand and read the message written in blood. Theoretically, the audience should catch what an ad means at a glance. In this case, you’ll need more than a glance to fully comprehend what it says.
The Ex List
Remember what we said about execution? No matter how good your concept is, if it’s not executed properly, then it won’t work. Look at the woman’s legs and how they don’t seem to be “connected” to the torso. Is that even physically possible?
- The ad should observe morals – it should not offend any group in the society, whether intentional or not.
- As much as possible, the print ad must have an original concept to maximize its effectiveness.
- Reading and understanding your ad shouldn’t take too much time and effort for people.
- The only time an ad is definitely bad is when it fails in the technical aspect. This includes bad resolution, wrong choice of specifications, graphic manipulation failures, etc.
- Apply these points when designing your own ads using business cards, promotional postcards, or large format prints.
If you have additional information, suggestions, insight, or you just want to share a personal experience on the topic being discussed, please do so by writing a comment below.