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Ways to Create a Great Ad #10: Visual Hyperbole

In '100 Ways to Create a Great Ad' Tim Collins offers an overview of a hundred tried-and-tested approaches used by advertising creatives to create great advertising campaigns. These advertising techniques can lead to brilliant commercials. Tim has selected 10 of these to be featured by D&AD, which means there's 90 more in his book

Ways to Create a Great Ad #10: Visual Hyperbole

Comic visual exaggeration can bring a touch of cartoonish absurdity to advertising

In advertising, comic exaggeration is used with images as well as with words. Visual hyperbole is a particularly popular technique in print advertising. Product benefits are depicted in a deliberately over-the-top way, often with cartoonish absurdity.

D&AD Great Ad Campaigns
This example of visual hyperbole became a pop culture classic, and was still being parodied decades after it ran. / Scali McCabe Sloves

A very famous example of visual hyperbole is the eighties ad for Maxell cassettes that feature a man getting blasted by the sound from his speakers. In this heightened reality, the sound is so powerful it blows the man’s hair and tie, and topples over his lampshade and martini glass. The image became a pop culture icon and has been parodied by everyone from Jackass to Family Guy.

D&AD Great Ad Campaigns
An early example of wordless communication that channeled surrealist painter Rene Magritte to dramatise the power of Victory V lozenges / Barker and Dobson

Visual hyperbole can lead to simple, wordless communication. A 1979 ad for Victory V lozenges parodied Rene Magritte’s painting The Son of Man to show a figure who’s head has been blown off by the strength of the sweets. It was a daring and wordless ad in an era when long headlines were still the norm.

D&AD Great Ad Campaigns
'The widest lens in its class'. Visual hyperbole exaggerates product features in a way we're not meant to take literally. / Naga DDB Malaysia

Visual exaggerations are a useful form of shorthand that’s easily understood by audience around the world.

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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