Inspirational Ads

Unfortunately didn’t do this in time to inform my designs, but still beneficial to look at the approach of the major carriers towards advertising. Overall It seem as though I have a preference for illustrative forms.


So many great ads by this carrier. This is just a small sample of the ones I particularly like. A common feature is the red housing for the strap line and other text. I guess it can be thought of as a large version of the speech mark logo.  Works well because of its consistency, you expect to see it. It makes their ads instantly recognisable.

Marconi work is always eye catching. Make for a pleasing ad wherever you his work.

I love the symbolism of this ads. This burger overflowing with every conceivable topping , garnishing is representative of the package great deal available with Vodafone.

I think the word ‘Thumbtastic’ and the little characters are great. Ties in perfectly with text messaging, since its the main method of input. Not much text needed here, the picture says it all.

Not sure what the being conveyed here as I cant read the text, I love the photography. A clean,  uncluttered composition that seem light, fresh.

The use of natural forms  ties in with the paperless environmental message is this ad. I Thinks the floral arrangements is effective. I particularly like how  the differing sizes cover the whole canvas. The ‘@’ symbol at the centre of each flower is a nice touch

The endorsement of one the the Largest franchises in cinema can never be a bad think. Although it probably has as much to do with generating interest in Star Wars Episode 1 3D as anything else. Either way makes for a fun TV ad.


Very minimalist design by Oscar Wilson You cant help but be drawn in by this very bold retro type. What I find really interesting is that other than the choice of colour, it doesn’t say anything about Orange, in fact this ad could work in a whole range of companies in lots of situations.

Its job is to grab your attention so I guess it works.

like the simplicity of this ad. The cloud region provides a nice region to seat the text. A simple illustration and easy to digest strap line.


“Search for Minutes” A really humorous  Ad campaign by Saatchi & Saatchi for T-mobile. Very simple imagery which is set off by implausible situations ( one would hope). A nice touch of Photoshop. Simple, yet effective.


Greying Out

Sometimes you come up with a method of doing something that works quite well. I’m particularly proud of this one. There may be easier ways of doing it  but it’s nice to figure things out.

I call this method ‘grey out‘ . You will see why.

I started off with (as close to) an  overhead shot  with an SLR. Stability is important here, also you will need a pair of matching shots so a tripod is necessary.

Choose an ad that you would like to replace. Here I’m replacing a 25X4 ad in the Evening Standard which has dimension of 151mm x 250mm.

Next we need a blanking sheet. Print an A4 sheet ( or 2 for full page ads) of 50%  grey with a laser printer. Place it over the ad. Close the paper and fold up as you normally would, be quite firm, dog ears and all ! Basically what’s happening is that all the creases that occur on each page are being transferred to the blanking sheet

Open it carefully so the blanking sheet doesn’t move out of position. Place it under camera for the overhead shot.

Its worth playing with the camera settings and taking several shots to get the right exposure.  I think my final shots were 1/3 stop over exposed. That came out best in my conditions, but I’m no photographer! Now take the pair of shot, one with and without the blanking sheet.

Make a Photoshop document containing these two photos, with original at the top. Add the replacement artwork at the bottom.

On the original, mask out the ad with an inverted vector mask, so this punches through to the blanking layer. You can desaturate the blanking layer ⇧⌘U  to remove all colour information. The beauty of the vector mask is that you can go back and adjust it to your hearts content.

You can see how nicely the blanking sheet now sits in the paper (creases and all !), effectively ‘greying out‘ the original ad

Set this layer to blendmode=multiply, add a Levels  adjustment and modify as necessary. The artwork on the bottom layer will no peer through picking up the texture and fold of the blanking sheet.

Its important to have correctly size artwork. It make these steps easier and more convincing.

After this its just Photoshop 101 ( this is level 3 so maybe 301). Its just a matter of resizing, warping or liquify perhaps, and colour adjustments using whatever techniques you see fit to give a convincing and satisfying result.

For the final result click on the images in the post ‘Ads in Situ

Ads in Situ

As stipulated in the design brief the campaign is run 3 key areas

  1. Free newspapers, Metro and The Evening Standard
  2. Along the escalator is key intersect Underground stations e.g Kings Cross, Victoria
  3. At key bus shelters along school routes.

1. Free Newpapers

An example of an ad placed in the Evening Standard. Its a 25X4 advert with dimensions 151mm x 251mm. The art work is sized accordingly.

This is a another example of full ad in the Evening Standard. Its a full page advert with dimensions 268mm x 340mm. The artwork is set to these specs with bleed and margins before insertion to the paper.

2. Escalator Panels

An example of one of the ads in an escalator panel in a key intersect station. These are digital panels and the ads were designed with that in mind. All the elements lend themselves to animation techniques. There is not much time for a person to digest content as they pass by which is why there is a certain brevity to the text. The text is intentionally bold, almost jumping off the design in hope that a commuter is left with the message of the competitive pricing scheme of the yap! mobile network.

3. Bus Shelters

An example of how the ad would look and key bus stops on school route. This demographic is a huge market and as such this ad is designed with this younger section of the market in mind, but at the same time does not exclude the over 20s. Game play accounts for a large percentage of  mobile usage.

Its bold and bright. The comic call out is striking, and the message is easily digested.

Started out with a close up picture of a bus shelter, masked out the original picture using an inverted vector mask, and placed my artwork below.

It seemed a little flat, unconvincing, so I took an image of crumpled paper , desaturated it ⇧⌘U and set blendmode = multiply, adjusted the levels to get the desired look. slightly burnt the edges ( non destructively ) and toned down the orange using Hue/Saturation
, finally added an inner shadow to the artwork to sink it into the ad space.

Ad 2.

Here again we are playing with the

idiom: It costs the earth.

The meaning of which is it’s very expensive! The ad visually shows  the literally meaning of the term in that the earth is under attack. But what is communicated is the idiomatic meaning, in hope that viewer will find humour in the play on words

Following the same approach as the first, but taking inspiration from film rather than games. I looked at classic poster design for 1950s sci-fi  B movies.

Came across a couple of old favourites.

I particularly like the space craft in the first. Everyone recognises flying saucers. These were good examples. In the second I love the main text. I think it still looks fresh toaday as it did then. A style that has been copied many times.

I proceeded to draw the flying saucer. I find it helps me gauge what to do when I get to illustrator.In Illustrator used Elispe Tool, and Pen Tool do draw the saucer. This is an outline view ⌘Y

and filled with various shades of grey and Stroke: Profiles and weight.

Next I did various composition sketches. Really rough! . Just to give me an idea what layouts would work.

The first toys with some Ideas for extruding text, kind of similar to Superman. The second goes through various layout possibilities.

Some assets are carried over from the first ad, the earth the logo. The flying saucers are ready to go. The main thing left is styling the text. This mimic ‘When Worlds Collide‘ in the classic poster above.

I achieved a close approximation using layer styles shown left.

Then merged these together. Using ⌘T and to tools under Edit > Transform I shaped the flattened text layer to give the desired look.

I made some variations of the text and layout compositions using Layer Comps

Ad 1.

Here we are playing with the

idiom: It costs the earth.

The meaning of which is it’s very expensive! The ad visually shows  the literally meaning of the term in that the earth is under attack. But what is communicated is the idiomatic meaning, in hope that viewer will find humour in the play on words

Taking inspiration from the classic arcade game Space Invaders, the premise is that the aliens are descending on the earth, with the defensive ship doing it best to curtail this. In the attention grabbing call out we deliver the slogan

mobile charges shouldn’t cost the earth

Putting it together

ref: off with this image of the globe found at

I used Live Trace in illustrator to remove the watermark and give me a usuable image. Next was a trip to for the following fonts.

  1. invaders from space. The classic sprite characters found in he game
  2. Komika Axis and Comic Book for the slogan

Using the Star Tool as a starting point made a comic style call out. To finish off added the yap logo and a simple backdrop.

Design Brief

The Ad campaign is for a small mobile network operator recently entered the market.

The company sees itself young, vibrant and hip. Work hard, play harder!

To get the brand out there across the city the idea is to hit commuter traffic, both going to and coming from work.

Ads will run in the in the free papers Metro, and Evening Standard in an attempt to catch the commuter traffic at both ends.  Ads  will also run on escalator panels at key intersect stations on London Underground, and key bush shelters along school routes.

As you can image, a potential customer only has a number of seconds to digest an escalator ad before it passes them by, hence the word count should be minimal, but should leave with a memorial message, easy to grab on (hold on) to.

The criteria is for something bold, so it stands out from the crowd, with an element of humour or playfulness.

The companies selling point

  • cheap network calls ( national )
  • unlimited text messaging
  • unlimited internet downloads
  • competitive price schemes

The campaign can draw form any genre, but must highlight at least one of the above points.


Mobile devices nowadays are multifaceted, used for much more than making calls. Amongst common usages are

  • Text messaging
  • Music
  • games
  • Photos
  • Internet
  • Videos
  • Email

On public transport I notice a high degree of mobile usage. Their thumbs working like crazy engaged in some game. I chose this as a source of the ad. On of the key statements in the brief was the competitive pricing and decided to play with that.