PEER PRESSURE; AUSTRALIAN STARE MASTER COLIN WHEILDON,THE AUTHOR OF "TYPE AND LAYOUT: HOW TYPOGRAPHY AND DESIGN CAN GET YOUR MESSAGE ACROSS-OR GET IN THE WAY" (STRATHMOOR PRESS, BERKELEY, CALIF.), CASTS A DUBIOUS EYE ON SOME AMERICAN ADS

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Client: Danbury Mint (Buick Skylark)

Agency: In-house

This ad works. I'm not in love with the idea of capital initials on every word in a headline, because I believe it tends to slow decipherment, hence concentration. But I guess I can put up with it here.

There are no traps for the readers in this ad: the head leads into the text; the text is continuous and of a comfortable size; and the line lengths are perfect for comprehension. The coupon's in the right place, and the whole gives the reader no discomfort.

Client: TCG

Agency: Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York

The danger of putting a full period after a head where the message is yet to come has probably never been more clearly illustrated than it is here. After I had read the strident head, I was tempted to take the advice it gives-leave it!

The head is hard to read because of its very nature-capitals and reversed-but after struggling to digest that, readers are asked to skip back to the top of the page to start the message. Chances are they won't. But even if they did, the huge interlinear spaces make comprehension difficult, particularly where the lines of type are about three times as long as most readers find comfortable.

Client: CNA

Agency: Frank C. Nahser Inc., Chicago

The condensed capital heads are harder to read than they need be, but the rest works well. The flow is natural, top left to bottom right, with the minor exception of the small capitals slogan line, which sticks out like a country outhouse.

I would have preferred to use leaders after the first head and to begin the second, to guarantee continuity.

Also, I can't see why the text is set ragged right, when justified text is more comprehensible. But, on the whole, a reasonable result.

Client: Hofstra University

Agency: Greenstone Roberts, Melville, N.Y.

The picture of the kid with his construction set is a great one-spoiled by the superimposed message. Text placed on tone is difficult to read under the best of circumstances, but there's another land mine to negotiate: the series of reversed yellow capital headlines breaking up the white text, and breaking up the reader's concentration at the same time.

But wait, there's more: the type lines are set ragged right, which presents readers with a further hurdle. The heading is almost apologetic to start with; reversing it onto the illustration means it simply gets lost.

Client: GMC Jimmy

Agency: McCann/SAS/Detroit

This is nearly classical, but a couple of design elements annoy me. The text lines are too long for comfortable reading-two columns, with a slightly increased type size and reduced interlinear space would have been more comprehensible.

Then I would have put the headline in lower case, and made it slightly larger. Why the parentheses? They don't seem to do or say anything. But, those exceptions aside, the ad works for me.

Client: Comtrad Industries

Agency: In-house

Apart from a couple of solecisms, this ad works well for the reader. The head's at the beginning of the message, and leads into it. The text is largely straightforward, and there's a natural flow from top left to bottom right. But why is the tint panel let into two columns, instead of being placed at the foot of column one? By being inset, it forces readers to alter reading rhythm and intrudes as they negotiate the text. The same applies to the smaller inset in column four.

The conservative use of spot color for the drop letter and phone number is excellent.

Client: New York State Tourism

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather/New York

I'm a poor country boy, and I'd probably get lost as easily in New York as I did in this advertisement.

Start with the reversed head in the middle of the page. Where next? The natural move is below and left, but that makes no sense. Go back to the top left, read the small leg of type there-then where? Find the right place below the head, read that leg of type there-then where? Back under the head again. But after the next leg of type it's over the head to the top of the page.

And if that weren't tough enough on the readers, they have to contend with little inset pictures so they can't get any sort of rhythm in their reading. I got sore feet trying to find my way through the ad. Who else will bother?

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