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Arrest audience with imagery

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Stopping prospective targets in their tracks is no easy task for advertisers in this era of ever-increasing distractions. Appeals for their attention come from many directions and at a furious clip, underscoring the need to arrest them with simple, compelling images—the critical first step en route to engagement.

We collected a handful of print and online images that managed to penetrate all the noise and then engaged us with the larger message. The most well-crafted message will go to waste unless the audience is delayed long enough to at least consider a key selling point.

Speaking of tracks, we found the single paw print at the heart of an ad for Asia Pulp & Paper riveting. The breakthrough image was apropos of APP’s copy points about its commitment to biodiversity through its support of several nature sanctuaries. “Because we understand that for our business to thrive, the world in which we live must thrive as well” reads the closing line of copy that goes beyond all the usual environmental pieties we often encounter in so-called green ads.

Yellowbook uses visual magnetism in the form of a multi­hued daisy to arrest an online audience. The flower in the right-hand corner of the banner ad demanded a closer look and then served as an apt met-aphor for Yellowbook’s selling proposition—that it will draw upon a colorful spectrum of products and services to help clients market their wares. Yellowbook’s landing page describes such tools as direct marketing, search marketing, metrics reports and websites as key ingredients in its 360-degree portfolio of options to help drive a customer’s campaign.

The image of an elephant riding a wave on a surfboard is as preposterous as a flying pig. Yet we never fail to notice these exercises in borrowed interest. We are intrinsically drawn to animal acts.

Accenture taps the big-bodied surfer to make a point about agility. “No matter what size your organization, agility is imperative. Agility allows you to more swiftly capture opportunities. It accelerates development of new capabilities. It fuels high performance. Today’s winners prevail by balancing scale, speed and flexibility in ways competitors cannot match.” In this case, the borrowed interest works because the image was compelling and the message about organizational agility was closely tied to it.

The headline in these borrowed-interest executions plays a critical role because it must quickly translate the metaphor. In Accenture’s case, the headline “Who says you can’t be big and nimble?” serves as the bridge between the image and the message in the text.

AT&T Inc.’s creative team deserves to take a deep bow for devising an image that’s both dramatic and relevant to the company’s selling proposition. A pair of hands painted to resemble handsomely decorated English porcelain teapots balance a mobile device with the AT&T logo on the screen. The image is impossible to resist.

Having flagged down the audience, AT&T moves in quickly with a pair of headlines that convey its selling proposition: “Best coverage worldwide. … More phones that work in more countries, like England.” There’s no text to speak of, only a strip of fine-point boilerplate across the bottom of the page. But AT&T didn’t need to say much more about its worldwide cellular coverage thanks to its vivid, clutter-busting image.

Finally, NEC lets its large-screen LCD’s color capabilities speak for themselves with the image of a charming waterfront set against a fleecy summer sky. The copy, directed at technology buyers in higher education, is as dry as the image is dynamic. “Maximize the impact of your digital messaging with this large-screen LCD that provides a cost-conscious solution for digital signage applications. This model features a public display-grade panel that protects against permanent image retention, and a full selection of inputs ... .” Fortunately for NEC, the visual of the monitor set against the backdrop of a classroom more than makes up for the colorless copy.

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