September 12th, 2012   •   2 comments   

Guest blog by a great resource to Howell team, Anderson Humphreys of Humphreys Ink.  Anderson is one of Memphis’ finest creative minds and we are fortunate to have him as a client resource and secret ad weapon!

Ignore the message, and advertising is indeed a big fat waste of money. Here is where many advertisers make the classic mistake of thinking about the delivery and ignoring the message.
A good ad is the fastest form of communication in the world. It can tell a story in a few words that can easily replace a 6 page letter.

It is the first function of advertising to stop the reader, the viewer or listener. Make them look at you. The essence of advertising is “look at me, look at me, look at me.”
We would do well to remember the original meaning of the word advertising. It is from the Latin adverto meaning to turn towards. That’s what creative ads should do—turn our prospects towards us. The ads have to be clever, inviting, compelling and challenging enough for you to want to know more, without telling you too much.

Create breakthrough advertising. “Breakthrough” happens not when the advertiser breaks out of the multitude of advertising messages, but when the consumer breaks into the message because he or she sees something meaningful or relevant.

Another principle to adhere to is “one point retention.” Talk about one thing at a time. Often advertisers make the mistake of trying to tell too much—we are this, we are also that and this too, and so on and so on. Taken in the context of the ad that appears before yours and the one after yours, there is little chance the reader/viewer will retain all of those secondary points anyway. So find what is relevant and make it unique, compelling and memorable. Then and only then does you ad become truly effective.

Take perceived negatives and turn them into positives or make them non-issues. Also you need to address any misperceptions about the company, and indeed in the industry, which are barriers that must be overcome.


  • In retail, packaging is everything.
  • The great advertising myth is you are better off using a big agency in a big city.
  • If you aren’t getting complaints on your advertising, you have the wrong agency.
  • Advertising is an art and a science.
  • The most memorable ad is one that the reader has some knowledge they possess in order to understand it. That way they partner with the ad.
  • An ad without a benefit is in essence a contribution to the media.
  • Only tell them what they want to know, not what they don’t want to know.
  • A headline repeating the visual is a clear indication the creative team… isn’t.
  • Creative for the sake of creative is not good advertising.
  • Quality is perceived, not stated.
  • Avoid radioactive words like quality and needs—they have been used to death.
  • They need to say it square, we’ll say it with flair.
  • Graphics sell. And they promote.
  • In advertising, perceptions are reality.
  • Ads have to be compelling enough to make someone actually read it.
  • Account teams consist of 1 to 10 players. Why use an agency with the overhead of 300?
  • When writing copy, you must learn to speak conversationally and unlearn everything you learned in school.
  • From the advertiser’s perspective, the competition is not only direct competitors; it is every other ad appearing in that publication, in that time slot. After all, we’re competing for eye/ear share.


  • Small space advertising: Sometimes a whisper is more effective than a shout.
  • Spot color: Color can make a small page ad page dominate.
  • Logos: Logos make your first impression, and your last.
  • Invitations: The better the invitation, the better the attendance.
  • Announcements: An announcement should be the printed equivalent to a trumpet.
  • Book covers: Who ever said you can’t judge a book by its cover? Hello!
  • Brochures: It’s your introduction. It’s best to make a good impression.
  • Posters: Make it bigger. The ad, not the logo.
  • Billboards: Billboards work best as a directional and reminder medium.
  • Street banners: It’s one of the few mediums that is both promotional and aesthetic at the same time.
  • Signage: It’s your visual anchor.


  1. lori mcnee says:

    Great post! These principles are really helpful for art marketing too. Thanks for sharing this thoughtful post that is rich with useful information.

    Lori 🙂

  2. Amy howell says:

    You are welcome Lori! Thanks for taking time to comment!

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