Advertising and the Mind of the Consumer: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why

By Max Sutherland | Go to book overview

10 WHAT'S THIS I'M WATCHING? THE ELEMENTS
THAT MAKE UP AN AD

In the last chapter we saw that the way an ad speaks to us affects our processing of it—that news is processed differently to reminders. Ads vary enormously even though their basic elements are much the same: sound, voice, music and pictures. A brand like Coke will often have several different ads exposed on TV in the same week, not to mention what's on YouTube etc. The message is often the same but the ads may all be executed in different ways. As we have seen, the way the executional elements of an ad are blended can help determine which of the con sumer's mental pro cesses become engaged and which do not.

Again, the art of the creative departments in ad agencies is traditionally intuitive rather than encoded in any set of well-formulated principles. Articulating what makes for creative success in advertising is an underdeveloped science and even more especially when it comes to analyzing the individual elements of an ad. This chapter draws on advertising findings and principles of psychological processing that are gradually coming to light, that jointly further our understanding of how the executional elements of an ad work, or don't work as the case may be.


Interaction of words and visuals1

It is important to note how elements can interact, such as music with visuals or words with visuals. For example consider the statement: 'The stripes expanded'. We can't effectively process it. What does 'The stripes expanded' mean? There is no mental address that is activated in our mind that corresponds to the stripes. Unless we can locate one we can't make sense of it. If on the same page, however, there is a picture of a man blowing up a striped balloon, we easily make sense of it.

In this way the visual element can be effectively used to manipulate what is 'on stage' in our minds and help us locate the appropriate mental

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