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Ways To Create a Great Ad #2: Mash-Ups

In '100 Ways to Create a Great Ad' Tim Collins offers an overview of a hundred tried-and-tested approaches used by advertising creatives. These advertising methods are useful techiques for anyone creating great advertising campaigns. Tim has selected 10 of these to be featured by D&AD, which means there's 90 more in his book.


Mixing two very different things together can often create something new. The technique has been used in everything from Monty Python sketches to bootleg remixes of Slipknot and Justin Bieber to novels such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Combining mismatched images can create strong print advertising. One of several advertising campaign examples features a poster for the Financial Times blending Richard Branson and Che Guevara to illustrate ‘business revolutionaries’.



D&AD Great Ad Campaigns
01 / FT Mash-ups combine two contrasting visuals. Here, an icon of communism is mixed with an icon of capitalism. / In Book, DDB London, 2008

The technique can be used to generate surprising visuals. A Telefonica ad showed an Asian man with red hair to illustrate the claim, ‘The lowest call rates to Japan and Scotland’. The Natural History Museum mixed images of children and explorers for their ‘New recruits wanted’ campaign.

D&AD Great Ad Campaigns
02 / Natural History Museum This campaign for the Natural History Museum mashed up images of grizzled explorers with those of child visitors.

TV and radio are perfect for mixing different genres and styles. The effect is often deliberately silly, as with the Heineken commercial that combined costume drama with action movie.

The incongruity can also be shocking. A radio ad for the charity Women’s Aid described domestic abuse in the style of a Mills & Boon romance. A TV ad for children’s charity the NSPCC combined slapstick animation with disturbing live action. A boy who is being attacked by his father is shown purely through animation until the very end, when we see him lying face down on the floor. The line was, ‘Real children don’t bounce back’.

03 / NSPCC ‘Real children don’t bounce back’. This NSPCC ad combined cartoon violence with live action to upsetting effect. / Yellow Pencil, Saatchi & Saatchi, 2003

If you're interested in learning how to write for advertising, why not take a look at our advertising copywriting training course with Will Awdry. 

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