Thursday, October 8, 2009

In defence of nothing

The National Post reports that Mississauga City Councillor Carolyn Parrish has declared war on the "overuse" of colour and whitespace in city print ads, challenging Mississauga's communication people to reduce their ad budget by 30%.

Now, I'm all for being efficient, and I appreciate the Councillor's push to get her city's communications into the modern digital world. But the insistence that municipal ads are "too large, utilize too much blank space or have too many colorized features" is something I have heard many times before. And it's a mistake.

Smart use of whitespace (or "negative space") is an important technique used to get print ads noticed, especially when they're floating in a text-heavy page of editorial.

For example, this sentence, with no other art direction to help it, stands out.

Unfortunately, though, many clients look at their media spending, and dislike the idea of paying for several column inches of nothing. And you end up with a mess like this:

Instead of a show-stopper, like this:

Restrained use of colour highlights can also be effective:

So, if there's one thing I'd like to say to people like Councillor Parrish, it's give your print ads a break. They need all the help they can get.

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