BtoB's Best Creative: Nucor Corp.

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A well-balanced ad is worth its weight in gold, or in this case, steel. Steel company Nucor Corp. set out to communicate that it's more than just a steel company with its "Factory" ad and, thanks to design that appropriately balances the right image, headline and copy, it does just that.

The goal was to position Nucor as a company that is responsible both environmentally and in terms of business performance, said Matt Ferguson, partner-account supervisor at Eric Mower & Associates. "To steel-consuming companies, the message is, if you buy steel from Nucor, your project or product will be better," he said. "To investors, if you buy Nucor stock, your portfolio will be better. And to opinion leaders, Nucor is one of those companies that strives to make the world a better place."

The ad's various elements work together effectively to communicate that message. The headline is likely the first thing the reader's eye falls to, largely because it isn't crowded, overblown or overshadowed, as so many b-to-b ads' headlines are. Instead, this headline is printed in all caps onto yellowing paper and framed on what appears to be a steel or brass plate, giving it some depth and old-fashioned appeal. It's also given room to breathe, with a distressed hunter green background above and below it. Most important, the headline sums up the point of the ad in just a few short words: "Not only do we recycle steel. We recycle steel companies."

The copy delivers on the promise of the headline, detailing how Nucor recycled more than 20 million tons of steel last year. It then goes beyond the company's environmental stewardship to the company's strategic vision, explaining how it spent more than $1 billion to bring good steel companies into the Nucor family, transform their operations and introduce new technologies.

The image of a steel factory set against a bit of blue sky and the sunrise—with no smoke coming from the smokestacks—aligns with the copy's message. The reader gets the sense that though this company operates in an old-school industry, it's committed to the future. 

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