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I say . . . the start of a great ad

The art of conversation is an ideal framework to create great ads. JASON HOWARD reveals how newspapers can create that essential connection.

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When a client decides to do business with you, it is easy for them to believe they are simply booking space on a page. Yet, that misses the unique role print plays in connecting with audiences.

Newspapers deliver the opportunity for a conversation, and the language of the medium is great creative.

First impressions count. You need to attract the attention and then have something interesting to say. Great ads are created from passion – a true belief in the product or service, and an energy to present a case with such conviction that it will inspire action.

Creativity does not come naturally to everyone, and structure often provides an entry point for how to approach the challenge. For direct advertisers who might have reservations about their advertisement’s design, the so-called “AIDCA” methodology is powerful.

It is based on an inverted triangle, or a funnel, that descends in a logical order towards the desired outcome of any advertisement – a purchase. AIDCA stand for:

  • Attention
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Conviction
  • Action



Great conversations follow a similar pattern to the AIDCA inversed pyramid.

Newspapers are great conversationalists. They allow advertisers to speak to mass audiences, such as national and metro publications, or small communities.

Creativity is essential no matter the size of audience. It enhances the conversation, and the following examples highlight advertisements and innovative advertising options that do this effectively in both national/metro and local publications at each stage of the AIDCA inversed pyramid.


David Ogilvy once said: “It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product. Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night.” This is especially so in a newspaper environment. The journalism and photography work harder and powerfully to keep a reader on a page. But if nothing sparks a reader’s interest, including the advertisements, then they will linger just 3 to 4 seconds before turning the page.

Example: National/Metro Publications –

The Ikea Wardrobe advertisement (below) demonstrates how creative can be used to demand attention and create a deeper engagement with the reader creating a novel and memorable experience.

Ikea copy

Example: Regional & Local – The Aumann’s ad demonstrates innovative use of advertising shapes to demand attention. It allows the advertisement to dominate the page and the editorial intrusion gives it a sense of depth. Regional and local titles are increasingly embracing these types of executions, which offer advertisers an almost endless set of creative options so they can increase cut-through.

Aumanns copy


Great ads go beyond a focus on price and features and craft the message in a unique way. If you can achieve this and boost impact with interesting shapes, editorial integration and page placement, then you will have the desired conversation with your target audience.

Example: National/Metro –

Newspapers by nature attract audiences who are interested in the world around them. The Veet campaign demonstrates how creative harnesses current affairs to create a strong tactical message. It makes you take a second look and is both humorous and memorable. Such an execution is only possible through a medium like newspapers, which provide the right contextual environment for such a message.Veet copy

Example: Regional & Community –

National Australia Bank used vertical half-page wraps across Leader Community Newspaper titles in Melbourne to create interest in a specific home loan product. This is a great example of creative designed for a specific medium. The core message speaks to a targeted audience, and the wrap creative invites the audience to discover more on the inside pages. The creative is simple, direct and effective. It illustrates the capacity of regional and community publishers to go beyond display advertising and offer innovation.

Leader Real Estate_open and closed copy


Dedicated sections, newspaper-inserted magazines and lift-outs allow advertisers to align themselves in a specific environment to increase desire for their product. In an editorially-aligned section, such as cars or homes, an advertiser is going to find an audience that will readily consider a relevant product or service.

Example: National/Metro –

Luxury brands, such as Maserati, use publications like The Australian’s Wish Magazine, as it provides the ideal contextual environment to position its message and target a wealthy audience. Like many advertisements in this category, beautiful imagery and classic layout are combined with clever copy to create a strong desire for the product.

Wish and Maserati copy

Example: Community – Local newspapers are also active in building desire across many product categories. The Geelong Advertiser’s ‘GT’ example is indicative of many home and lifestyle sections that give retailers the opportunity to appear as part of a dedicated section that is closer in look and feel to editorial than advertising. The curated content of such pages provides high audience engagement and credibility.

GT copy


This is the moment audiences weigh up the emotive and factual reasons presented to them and decide whether or not to take action. The most effective ads are those that combine both emotion and fact, and present them in one compelling and creative offering.

Example: National/Metro – RaboDirect’s emotive “How could I let myself con myself” message turns a dry factual message on interest rates into something far more compelling.  This is then supported by strong layout and typography that supports the ‘Shonky Savers Exposed’ theme.

Rabobank copy

Example: Community – NBN uses children’s education as the emotive element in this execution, stating the NBN network will “Put the best educational tools at their fingertips, and the world at their feet”. This positioning is then supported by strong imagery depicting futuristic digital interaction. The factual components then speak to the NBN rollout and to purchase.

NBN copy


Once you have built your case, you then need to tell your audience what you want them to do – and how to do it.  From community service through to price-driven executions in the Retail sector, newspapers offer the ideal platform from which to prompt action from your audience.

Example: National/Metro – Newspapers offer advertisers a credible and respected platform from which to promote strong calls to action. They are commonly used by community service and charitable organisations. The Earth Hour ad (below) uses a strong concept combined with clever editorial integration to reinforce its message.

Earth Hour copy

Example: Regional and Community – Newspapers remain one of the most effective mediums for product and price-driven advertisers. From large supermarket and retail chains through to local stores, retailers rely on the hyper-local readership of regional and community titles to reach potential customers and drive store traffic.

The Big W ad is a good example of how price incentives remain one of the strongest calls to action. The core offer – “20% off all toys” – is the largest element on the page and is made all the more effective by limiting the period the offer is available to “7 days only”.

Big W copy


It’s a two-way conversation.

Traditionally, the conversation has been one-way – advertisers craft their message and a percentage of readers listen. With the expansion of multiplatform offerings from publishers’ – and the integration of print and digital/social campaigns – the conversation now flows both ways. This creates the opportunity for richer experience for the buyer and seller. A recent Coca-Cola campaign demonstrates this perfectly. It ran so-called buy-outs (all the ad space) across digital sites and invited readers to submit and share their version of happiness. These posts were then aggregated to create an online destination that reinforced the campaign positioning.

Coke_2 X SCREENS copy


Newspapers and their digital properties can create engaging conversations between the seller and the buyer if sufficient thought is applied to the creative and narrative of the advertisement. The “AIDCA pyramid” provides a framework that will inspire innovative approaches to copy, design and media placement. The conversation will be memorable, and so will the sales.




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