Subtleties in Advertising Design.

Today I want to examine a few print advertisements which are designed with elegance and subtlety. But before I do, I must point out that subtle advertising is not always the “best” advertising. One must understand the target audience and message of the brand before choosing a blatant or subtle design style.

Today the audience I am looking at is young families or young couples hoping to start a family soon. They are concerned about the health and well-being of their baby.


















This is a beautiful example of a subtle ad. The visual design is simple and the message is clear and instant.  To me, this is what an ad should be. It is beautiful even though it is addressing a grave topic.

Now look at the following ad which is blatant and shocking.

hand soap advertisement with bugs

Although shock value is often useful in advertising, I don’t feel it is working well here. An image like this makes me want to turn the page, not purchase a product. The overuse of shock value in this ad actually cheapens the brand in my mind, because they did not take the time to think of a more visually elegant way to disgust me into wanting to wash my hands. This does not mean the advertisement is not working within the target market, however. I did read articles praising this layout, it simply does not appeal to me in the slightest.

And this, of course, is why research in advertising is essential. What do you think? Do you prefer subtle or blatant advertising in this scenario?

Liesl Kadile



2 thoughts on “Subtleties in Advertising Design.”

  1. Hey Liesl,
    I enjoyed your most recent posting based on the way you shined a light on how fast a shock value ad can go from a positive to negative.
    I personally feel that the first one works and captures my attention were as the second one is just to blatant. All I see are roaches and no product plus with a second glance I can’t help but see roaches now associated with that product.

  2. I agree with the following: “This is a beautiful example of a subtle ad. The visual design is simple and the message is clear and instant. To me, this is what an ad should be.”
    The best print ads make use of visual puns, in my opinion. They communicate quickly, are simple, and entertaining to read as opposed to the standard promotional piece. A clever play on a well-known idea is a great place to start an ad concept!

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