Advertising Creative

  • Hierarchy of Messages
  • Headlines and Subject Lines
  • Getting to “that’s me.”
  • Trust and Figures of Speech

Aristotle’s Appeals

His three elements of persuasion are great to include in any advert: 

Ethos- this is all about the speaker’s credibility, “why you should believe me.”

  • “Diet Chef has 200,00 customers”

Pathos- appealing to emotion.

  • “I was in tears when I saw the old photo”

Logos- appealing to logic.

  • “Costs the same as a coffee and a sandwich”

If you get respect for the person speaking along with emotion and logic, you are a long part of the way there.

Hierarchy of Messages

Before any advert, you should consider:

  • One primary message.
  • Multiple secondary messages.
  • Using the one second test: show the advert for one second, does the viewer grab the primary message?
  • Ensuring photo (if any) matches primary message.

You want to make sure that the primary message is the one clear thing people take away. 

Headline and Subjects

The purpose is to get the right person to read the advert:

  • Do you want to lose weight?
  • How to lost weight
  • New… or Announcing…
  • 10 things you didn’t know about…
  • Help you to…

Headlines may put off some customers, but that’s fine. 

The Trinity

3 things you always want to see in a consumer advert:

  1. New
    • New… or Announcing…
  2. Free
    • The higher the “free” count the better.
  3. Sex
    • “My husband loves my new body.”
    • “I had a lot of fun on my holiday.”

That’s me

You want the person reading your advert to think, “that’s me.” 

  • Photos you use should correspond to your targeted customer. If you are selling to men, use pictures of men. 
  • Remember that everyone is different so use the most average photos, or ideally, use a group of different people to cover all different races, genders and ages. 
  • Inclusive lists (e.g an age range of 18 to 70) might feel incredibly clunky but are actually very effective in making people think “that’s me.” 

Avoid empty adjectives and superlatives

Avoid– empty adjectives.

“John is very witty and amusing.”

“The chilli is absolutely delicious with lovely tomato sauce.”

“Kevin’s Rolls-Royce is extremely quiet.”

Good– same messages with facts and visualisation.

“As I approached the room I could hear the sound of laughter and knew John was telling a story.”

“The chilli is hand made from British beef, with a sauce of ripe Spanish tomatoes seasoned with cayenne pepper.”

“At 60 mph the loudest noise in the Rolls-Royce is the ticking of the clock.”



  • The most popular product.
  • Fastest car.
  • Cheapest deal.


  • 85% of people preferred this product.
  • This was 21 mph faster than the others.
  • $59 cheaper than our competitors.

In any situation where you are saying you are better, you should always try and quantify the actual number and how much better you are.

Relate to the customer

Try not to talk about yourself. 


  • We are the most effective diet company.
  • We have a range of 100 products.


  • You will find us the most effective diet company.
  • You will enjoy our range of 100 products.

You are interesting, I am boring. 


  • Quotes from experts in the field. 
    • Adjectives and superlatives are fine in quotes.
  • Reviews – social proof.
  • Awards.
    • Not business awards but product awards.
  • Press quotes.
  • Mention TV advert  – “As seen on TV” old fashioned.
  • Use full postal address.
  • Guarantees.
  • Clinical Study.

Overcome inertia

  • Loss aversion
    • Threat of price rise.
    • Threat of running out of stock.
  • Scarcity
  • Countdown timers
  • Expiry date of offer
    • Offer ends in 24 hours.

A-Z Figures of Speech

1. Alliteration                11. Merism    

2. Anaphora                  12. Onomatopoeia

3. Aposiopesis               13. Paradox

4. Brachylogy                14. Paralipsis

5. Catachresis                15. Personification

6. Diacope                      16. Polysyndeton

7. Epistrophe                 17. Prolepsis

8. Hyperbaton               18. Rhetorical question

9. Hyperbole                  19. Simile

10. Metaphor                 20. Synecdoche

                                         21. Zeugma


Reading List
  • Dare to be a Great Writer by Leonard Bishop
  • The Elements of Eloquence: How To Turn the Perfect English Phrase by Mark Forsyth
  • Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
  • You Talkin’ to Me?: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama by Sam Leith