BASIC APPROACH IN ADS LOOKS SIMPLY SUPERIOR

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Simplicity.

Advertisers that are moving back to basics to get messages across in print are attracting readers' attention, according to Roper Starch Worldwide, Mamaroneck, New York.

Just look at the 15 print ads that were rated as 1993's most successful in capturing reader attention, according to Starch Tested Copy.

There was a movement last year away from visually shocking print ads to those with more muted visual appeal, said Philip Sawyer, Roper's director of communications and editor of Starch Tested Copy, a Roper Starch newsletter about advertising effectiveness.

For example, there wasn't anything as extreme as a naked man carrying a woman over his shoulder, Mr. Sawyer said. Yet, sex appeal sold in more subtle ways.

An ad for Procter & Gamble Co.'s Pantene Pro-V, from Grey Advertising, New York, uses subtle sex appeal to bring in the reader. The shiny brown hair cascading along the naked back of a woman wearing a loose-fitting gold dress exemplifies extreme subtlety. The body and face of the woman lead the reader's eye to the copy.

Another winning ad using sex appeal was created by Guess? Inc., Los Angeles, for Guess? jeans. It uses b&w and sexy, dressed models to capture attention.

Simplicity and lack of clutter make both ads a success, Mr. Sawyer said.

Another simple gimmick that seemed to work is the use of animals and children.

An ad for Reynolds plastic wrap, from J. Walter Thompson USA, New York, uses a cute seal with witty copy and effective layout to get some attention. The seal juggles a full bowl covered with Reynolds wrap while the copy reads: "Reynolds plastic wrap seals tighter than Saran Wrap."

An ad created by Campbell Mithun Esty for Travelers Cos. relies on a small child and grandfather to help sell insurance.

Color was also a big factor in attracting attention.

An ad for P&G's Comet, created by Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, is nothing really spectacular, Mr. Sawyer said. It features a giant bottle of new Comet bathroom cleaner pointed left with a headline reading: "Now Comet is a blast!" "It is an ad that bleeds off the page and is very eye-catching because of that green color," he said.

Other ads singled out were for E & J Gallo Winery's chardonnay, by Dailey & Associates, Los Angeles; WordPerfect Corp. software, by Merkley Newman Harty, New York; ITT Sheraton Corp., by Wells Rich Greene BDDP, New York; Lincoln-Mercury's Lincoln Mark VIII, by Young & Rubicam, Detroit; Chrysler Corp.'s Jeep Cherokee, by Bozell, Southfield, Mich.; General Foods International Coffees, by Y&R, New York; ConAgra's Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Original popping corn, by Ketchum Advertising, San Francisco; Walt Disney Co.'s "Aladdin," by Buena Vista Home Video, Burbank, Calif.; Schering-Plough Corp.'s FemCare, by William Douglas McAdams, New York; and Hanson Stock Brokers, by Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York.

The "most notable" ad winners were chosen from about 20,000 ads and selected based on in-person interviews of about 50,000 consumers.

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