What are the secrets to art direction and copy?

By November 25, 2012 2 Comments

Leo Burnett, one of the greatest advertising minds of the 20th century, said “Any fool can make a bad ad, but it takes a genius to keep his hands off a great one.” The secret to great advertising is the magic that happens in the first minute of building the ad and in the last minute where the audience views it. Art direction and copywriting ensure that great ads happen.

The first minute is like catching a firefly.

Often, a great ad comes at inopportune moments: while dreaming, while you’re carrying coffee back for the team and your hands are full, while talking on the phone. Whether it’s a great idea or not, we teach our team to always write down everything using computer software called Evernote. Our Evernote notebooks are shared between team members and can be updated, viewed, and collaborated on in real time. This means that no matter where an idea is when it strikes, our team will be able to capture it.

What happens in the middle is important, too.

After we develop an idea, we pitch it to other team members. If people start talking about it, that’s a good sign that the idea has legs. If no one feels passionately about the idea, it falls to the bottom of the queue. Sometimes ideas are saved from the trash bin by combining them with other ideas. Other times, an idea will have legs and get the room in an uproar. Once we’ve developed a few ideas, we pitch them to the client, talk about the pros and cons of each idea, and discuss how it conveys the brand’s message to the audience.

The last minute: How the audience reacts

Every advertisement in the world has one goal: communication of a message. How well the advertising communicates the message is a metric that we use to determine how good an ad is.

There are two ways that we determine how an advertisement will be received before we spend thousands of dollars producing and buying space for it:

  • The first is called concept testing, which measures how well the message is received by the audience and how it influences them. Concept tests are carried out on the core message of the advertisement, without “advertising-ese” or a sales message attached.
  • After we determine that the message is clearly represented and convincing, the next step is a copy test. A copy test determines how well the message is conveyed with the creative execution that we have selected.