When Less is More in Advertising

When Less is More in Advertising

You’ve got to think small when you’re limited on time and space. Nowhere in the advertising world is that more evident than in outdoor and digital. When trying to reach someone scrolling through their phone, you’re short on space. When trying to reach a driver zooming by a billboard, you’re short on time.

Some designers get excited with all the space they have to work with on a billboard and try to cram in too much information. Logo, tagline, copy, images, phone number, website – things can spiral quickly. A good way to keep from going overboard is to employ the whiteboard test. Print your billboard out on a large sheet of paper, hang it up on a wall, and walk 15 feet away. Can you read it? Does it look good? Can you see the logo clearly? If you’re answer to any of these questions is no, back off on a few elements so the central message is large and clear.

The same logic applies for digital ads. If the ad space is about the size of your pinkie finger, don’t make it too complicated. The benefit of digital over outdoor is the quick connection. If you can entice the viewer to click or tap, you have the opportunity to expand on your message immediately.

So how do you get your point across to a consumer that’s barely looking? Keep it simple. Here’s a few examples from some of our recent projects.

Meth-Wick Home & Health Services

Meth-Wick is a senior living community in Cedar Rapids and Home & Health Services is the in-home care arm of the business. We recommended they launch an aggressive awareness campaign as they expanded their services beyond their campus and into the greater community. The large boomer population is retiring quickly, with more and more people seeking in-home care for themselves or a loved one. We spoke straight to the consumers’ concerns by communicating that Home & Health Services can provide the “peace of mind” your family is seeking.


Surgery Center Cedar Rapids

This regional ambulatory surgery center provides the first-of-its-kind service in its market – outpatient surgeries that get people back in their own home the same day of their procedure. And, since centers like this are more economical for insurers, they are able to do it at 30-40% less cost. In order to convince people to consider Surgery Center, we hit them with the numbers. They are reminded that when they choose Surgery Center, they are choosing skill. And experience. And comfort. But we only use one stat at a time rather than overwhelming the viewer with more information than they can absorb.


University of Northern Iowa

The marketing team at UNI brought us in to find ways to increase their admissions numbers. The university had done a lot of research so we focused on the stats that would be most attractive to incoming students and create distance from other universities – student success rates, reasonable tuition, low student to faculty ratio, etc. We then settled on a media plan that would reach their eyes and ears through outdoor and Pandora ads like those seen here with a quick message and eye-catching design.


It’s important in any campaign to utilize a strong mix of media tactics to tell your story. TV and radio can allow you a little more time and print can be spacious. But when you are working within the margins on outdoor and digital, don’t complicate things. The campaigns that find the most success are the ones that keep things brief.

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