Black and White Tips to Facelift Your Advertising

Posted by Mark Kinsley on
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De Beers launched one of the most successful jewelry advertising campaigns of all time. If you’re north of 30 years old you probably remember the television ads. 

Take a look:

A Diamond is Forever 

25th Anniversary

Why did these spots inspire men to buy diamonds from De Beers? There are two techniques that contributed to their success that you can apply in your ads:

1) avoidance of full face

2) black and white images (also called gray scale)

Avoidance of Full Face

Images that do not show the entire face allow the audience to imagine themselves as that person (or envision that person as the object of their desire). In both De Beers commercials you never see the woman’s entire face, and therefore she becomes every woman. Your woman. Her lips part as you imagine the ring box opening to reveal the sparkling diamond. Those lips belong to each man’s wife or lover.

Black and White Images

While the faces remain hidden, so too does the color. This technique works because gray scale is the language of symbolism. When you add color, you connect the audience to reality, space, and time. Black and white imagery symbolizes a concept. In De Beers’ commercials, the series of images represent love and commitment. If those commercials had been produced in color, they would lose impact because we want to be taken to a world of possibility, where our love for a partner is romantic, elegant, and moving.

By now you may have noticed I used both techniques discussed above for this article’s accompanying image. Also, look back at the headline where I planted the conceptual seeds by writing “black and white” and “facelift.” Layering your message with images and copy is another technique called particle stacking. We’ll cover that later. Make sure you’re signed up for the Sleep Geek newsletter –you don’t want to miss anything.

Did you ever think cutting off faces and desaturating images could make your advertising sparkle? Don’t be safe and keep doing the same price-and-item scream ads. Make your audience feel something. They’ll reward you with their business. I promise.

About Mark

Mark Kinsley is Leggett & Platt's Staff Vice President of Marketing for the Bedding Group. Outside the office he enjoys spending time with family, mountain biking, hiking, and snow skiing. Connect with Mark on Twitter via @markkinsley. View all articles by Mark
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