Copy vs. Visual

Copy vs. Visual

A couple of days ago, I stumbled over this. It made me laugh and it’s just perfect to demonstrate the essence of this article.

What makes this letter so funny? Quite simple: it supports the message visually. Lets think about this for a minute. How can we apply this to advertising?

Generally, an ad serves the purpose of selling. Using different objectives – such as positioning, branding or creating awareness -, and different avenues – like emotionalizing, contextualizing, adding value, suggesting, etc. -, the main goal of an advertisement is to sell.

Use a visual to connect

The letter above may only be a joke – but it’s a very good example of how to transport a message by embedding a visual that enhances what has to be said in a very good way.

The difference between copy based ads and visual based ads is clear. One of the two (copy or visual) stands up front as the eye catcher, while the other acts as its supporter. Copy can also be a visual itself!

I can’t remember when I last saw a copy based ad that I really liked. They’ve become rare these days, at least when we talk about major league advertising.

Why visuals dominate

The reasons for the domination of visual based ads are quite clear:

  1. It is a well-known fact that a picture says more than 1000 words. That’s because it talks an emotional language.
  2. A copy based ad asks for more time to assimilate than a visual ad does. Reading is more time-consuming than viewing a picture, and time is a very rare asset nowadays.
  3. A copy based ad repels a lot of people because it engages their brains. It is always easier to watch a movie or to look at a visual than to read a text.
  4. A visual attracts a wider range of targets. Where a 35-year-old man sees a beautiful woman, a 16-year-old girl sees someone she wants to look like, and a 70-year-old woman sees the downfall of morality. Either way, all three of them actually get aware of that ad. That is a very important step which many ads fail to achieve.

So, what’s better?

When the time comes that you have to ask yourself whether you’d make a copy based or a visual based ad, you have to ask yourself these questions: what product do you want to sell, and who is your target?

It’s all about the target! With audiences, you can generally follow the rule that a younger audience will reject a copy based ad at a higher level than an older audience will. Also look at the degree of the level of education of the target. The more educated your target group is, the more likely it is that a copy based ad will actually be read and hits its intended goal.

Then, the more sophisticated a product or service is, the more you can start thinking about a copy based ad. If you want to sell a matchbox car, then you’ll probably spurn that thought pretty quickly. But if you’re looking at a nice, big, juicy, sun-grown, shade-ripped, hand-rolled long filler cigar, a copy based ad might be just the cookie!