Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Advertising Message Content

There are a number of specific identifiable techniques that are used in advertising to produce a message. These include animation, analogy, celebrity sponsorship, contrast, demonstration, diagrammatic, familiar, nostalgic, participation, personalization, sequencing, and slice of life. These techniques are primarily methods of organizing a visual structure, or a form for some content to be presented to an audience. Although these advertising techniques are ways of delivering a message, they are not the message itself.

For more information about advertising classifications refer to the article at http://www.theinformedillustrator.com/2013/09/advertising-classifications.html

Technique may seem to be the main influence that determines the personality of a message, however technique is only the conveyance when it comes to communicating a mindset in a message. This message viewpoint would include mannerism and personality, style and aesthetics, as well as a form and method, which combine to project a meaning. So if advertising technique is not the driving force that determines the character of a message, what is? Perhaps there is a higher set of essential elements that influence technique and form a direction for guiding message content.

Ultimately, message content in its purest form, is simply factual information about a product or subject. Information is the raw material that form the elements for all the other afore mentioned facets that go into preparing a promotional advertising message for mass consumption. It is these message elements that become the foundation that all advertising concepts are built upon. For in the world of advertising, information without adaptation is considered boring and non-attractive.

Essential Message Elements

There are three essential message elements, and at least one of these influencing elements is present in every example of advertising communication. In fact, these elements are also in every form of comedy, and for that matter, every other type of entertainment.

The elements are the intellectual, the emotional, and the physical. A reasonable definition of each follows.


Intellectual - adjective
Of or relating to the ability to think in a logical way; involving serious study and thought; developed or chiefly guided by the intellect rather than by emotion or experience.

Emotional - adjective
Developed or chiefly guided by emotion or experience rather than the intellect; markedly aroused or agitated in feeling or sensibilities; likely to show or express emotion, easily upset, excited, happy, etc.

Physical - adjective
Relating to the body of a person instead of the mind; existing in a form that you can touch or see; of or relating to physics, characterized or produced by the forces and operations of physics; having material existence, perceptible especially through the senses and subject to the laws of nature.

Essential Elements as Related to Comedy

Before demonstrating how the three elements are used in advertising, it might be easier to discuss them as they pertain to another form of communication – comedy. And the best way to accomplish that is to relate them to the comedians themselves, for comedians provide excellent examples of the intellectual, emotional, and the physical. Looking at the Marx Brothers, Groucho was intellectual, Harpo was physical, Chico was a bit of both, and Zeppo and Gummo were strictly emotional. Considering the Three Stooges, Larry, Curly, Moe, and Shemp were all physical comics. Intellect and emotion were in short supply. Lucille Ball was physical and emotional. Jack Benny was intellectual, very subtly physical, and rarely emotional. Laurel and Hardy were physical and emotional. WC Fields was intellectual and physical. The TV show Seinfeld uses all three elements, but they are divided among the four main characters. Jerry is intellectual, Kramer is physical, and George and Elaine are both emotional, with George representing the male side of emotion and Elaine expressing the female side.

Essential Element Use in Advertising


Ads that take an intellectual approach tend to craft a thought-provoking message that may require some form of serendipitous interpretation. With an intellectual approach, the information requires a reader or viewer to make a mental connection to fill in a deliberate gap left in a message, i.e., to put two and two together to add up to four, much like mathematical or left brain thinking. The use of the intellectual element is dependent on the desire of an audience to be of an inquisitive nature and to have an interest in problem solving.

More miles for less.  Client: Dorvaling Motos. Agency: 9mm Propaganda Brazil.
Lung cancer search. Client: Don't You Care?. Agency: BBDO Moscow.
New LG Big-In-Combo. Client: LG. Agency: M&C Saatchi Stockholm.
Keep your kids safe online. Client: Durex. Agency: Arrow Advertising Dubai.
Eat out. Fried Sago Worms. Client: Land Rover. Agency: Y&R Dubai.
Very very blond. Client:Platinum Blond. Agency: Droga5 Australia.
Violence leads to violence. Client: Convivencia Sin Violencia. Agency: Alazraki Networks Mexico.


The essential element of emotion is arguably the most difficult of the three elements to communicate. It relies on a reader or viewer sympathizing with the message and the depiction used to present an emotional message. This can only happen if a viewer or reader has had some prior, personal real life experience with the situation established in the ad and agrees with the opinion of the advertiser. The use of the emotional element relies on a common experience of an audience to register the information put forth in a message.

Cigarette burns. Client: TSPCA. Agency: BBDO Proximity Thailand.
Let's end child slavery. Client: World Vision. Agency: KBS+ Canada.
Free happens. Client 1st Bank. Agency: TDA Boulder.
It's worth the fight. Client: Food & Beverage Awards. Agency: WCRS London.
Instadog. Client: Pet Beauty. Agency: Tuppi Brazil.
People not numbers. Client: AVIV. Agency: BBR Saatchi & Saatchi Israel.
The new tippee cup. Client: tommee tippee. Agency: Full Contact Boston.


Far more prevalent in advertising than either the emotional element or the intellectual element, the physical element presents a conspicuous exaggerated display or a recognizable distortion of the information contained within a message. This element most successfully reveals its message in a visual, physically perceivable form. The use of a physical element is not nearly as dependent on some form of personal engagement by a viewer or reader as an emotional element or intellectual element.

Dark drinking chocolate. Client: Cocoa Metro. Agency: Richter7 Salt Lake.
Unleash your spirit. Client: Pena. Agency: Hermandad Brazil.
Train shaped chicken nuggets for kids. Client: Lezita. Agency: McCann Istanbul.
Up to 612 hp. Client: Mercedes-Benz. Agency: Jung von Matt/Donau Austria.
Chicken in a bucket. Client Cafe Deli Mart. Agency: Quimba Publicidad Costa Rica.
I feel fantastic. I'm falling apart. Client: Samaritans of Singapore. Agency: Publicis Singapore.
Apartments waiting for owners. Client: Morton Real Estate. Agency: Media Storm Moscow.

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