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Ad Design Critiques

Ad Design Critiques

The ad critiques below were developed to provide tourism industry partners with a way to evaluate their own ads through comparison. The Creative Strategies team has compiled this sampling of ads from random states. We have separated them into two basic categories: good and bad ad designs. The  glossary of terms may be helpful for reference while reviewing the critiques. You can also click on the title to view the image.
 

Good Design Examples
Ad style matches location
Strength through simplicity of elements
Organized information layout
High-quality imagery with excellent cropping
Image is everything
Professional layout techniques
Unifying elements solidify layout
Strong color palette and theme
Simplicity with strong elements

 

Poor Design Examples
No clear layout hierarchy
Don’t get cute
Poor font and image selection
Out of balance
No headline and poor image selection
Say good-bye to clip art
Poor design with little information
Clichéd equals eyesore
Too many partners
A lesson on what not to do with every element
Too much, too small 
Poorly utilized space


 

Good Design Ads 
 

Ad style matches location                                                                            


The format using postcard design works well for this travel location. Hand written style font is placed appropriately and works well in white. The simplicity of the ad is strengthened by the justified type and using only two font families. The ad does not bleed off the page and stands out more with clean white space around a fine black outline. Good photo quality. The only weak area is the main body copy is too small.

 

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Strength through simplicity of elements                                                      


This full-page, full bleed ad is powerful in its simplicity. The full bleed invokes a feeling that this scene does indeed flow beyond the page borders. Headline does not need to be huge because it’s not fighting with other colors and copy. The bottom copy is small but easy to read because the correct set-up and font were used with good leading from line to line. The soft mottled background also keeps your eyes from straining. A high quality photo was used in this ad.

 

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Organized information layout                                                                  


This double-spread ad keeps things simple while still promoting several attractions. Consistency in the smaller images creates a strong impression in the lower portion of the ad and carries the eye to the contact information. Smaller images are all cropped tight and include several engaging shots of people having a good time with available activities. Strong headline using a script font works because of the size used and the dark background in the image. Good contrast. It also creates a positive feeling through the copy, font and main image. Body copy is easy to read and concisely lists locations to visit. This is a good example of including a lot of information without being cluttered.

 

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High-quality imagery with excellent cropping                                             


This ad sells one thing – good family fun. Great, high-quality imagery cropped tightly to show guest expressions of joy. The slight rustic treatment on the ads border frames the image and ties it together through same font family use and simplicity of colors. The logo probably was the starting point for this ad layout and illustrates how a strong logo can drive a lot of your advertising direction.

 

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Image is everything                                                                                      


The image sells the business. The small heading is almost unnecessary. The upscale design elements behind the text evoke a sense of high class and refinement. Text, colors and the single-colored logo are all understated because the image is so powerful. Ad is also balanced because the bottom copy area uses one third of the page space.

 

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Professional layout techniques yield results                                                 


Great, eye-catching photo promotes their key elements in one specialized layout. Done professionally, this Photoshop technique can yield good results as shown in this ad. People are the main focus and they’re having fun. Font usage fits with company’s image. Copy is easy to read because of size and simple textured background. Logo pops on page with drop shadow and good contrast.

 

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Unifying elements solidify layout                                                                 


This ad uses two unifying elements to sell their message. Consistent font usage and one main color theme tie the photo and messaging together. The khaki border is subtle but draws your eye into the photo. The photo is well lit and ties in with the headline. The text overprint only works in this case because it is a larger size, increased line spacing, uppercase and has a darker drop shadow behind it. This technique, especially when not using black text, should be avoided in most layouts. Avoid uppercase body copy.

 

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Strong color palette and theme                                                                    


Headline copy compliments color theme and design of ad. Photos are too small but are still recognizable because the subject matter is clearly defined. Color palette is strong even though the colors are not offensive. Again logo pushes direction of overall ad feel with the nostalgic design and colors. Copy clearly promotes activities without using trite words like ‘and more.’ Overall, this layout would work better as a half-page ad but is well executed nonetheless.

 

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Simple ad but uses strong elements                                                            


Small space for an ad but the bright, simple image brings the focus to the logo placed in front. The complimentary solid blue is strong and borders the ad top and bottom leaving room for reversed ad copy.

Curvature of the blue color fields around the shopping bags further assists in drawing your eye into the layout.

 

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Poor Design Ads

No clear layout hierarchy                                                                            


Ad has no key element to get your attention and is very crowded. The photo montage is not clearly defined and is too small. Too much copy covers up the imagery. Photo quality is marginal. Rainbow colored background behind text makes no design sense. Ad should use one clearly defined image and brighten up logo. Avoid using generic highway signage to sell something in an ad.

 

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Don’t get cute                                                                                               


No hierarchy from heading to body copy. Headline has no visual punch. Image doesn’t say wine country. Attempt to be humorous with copy tie-in to dogs is weak. Even though body copy is large due to the brown color it is still hard to read over the image. Drop shadow on white text is poorly executed.

 

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Poor font and image selection                                                                     


Headline font is dated. Paint brush style fonts are not in style. Photo is marginal in quality and the green water doesn’t promote clean, safe swimming areas. The swimmers look like alligator bait. This one picture is supposed to sell their entire state’s state parks and their Web site. The contact information is large and easy to read but the two logos are very small. Text on the logos is very hard to read.

 

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Out of balance ad                                                                                         


No hierarchy in any part of the ad. Copy and headline/logo are all about the same size. Headline doesn’t need to be bigger but the body copy should be reduced in size. Images all fight for dominance because of their similar size. Rodeo image would make more sense to be large main photo. Delete most of the other generic images. Quality varies greatly from image to image. Black background is depressing and border edging doesn’t enhance overall ad. Copy uses ‘and more’ at end. Avoid this practice.

 

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No headline and poor image selection                                                        


This ad has poor layout style with three low quality images used. One high quality image would be preferable with this size ad. No effective headline is used and no hierarchy of text is presented. Copy size is too large for size of ad. There should be contact information listed including phone and Web site.

 

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Say good-bye to clip art                                                                               


Ad is small but could be more attractive by dropping out-of-date clip art. Company name could be moved to top as headline. Text at top of the ad could be reduced in size and treated more like body copy. Logo is attractive and should be increased in size and used at the main design element. This would make their contact information more prominent and the whole ad more attractive.

 

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Poor design with little information                                                              


This ad is suffering from very poor images and a very weak design. Fonts – limit font styles to one or two families. Avoid out-of-date fonts like the brush style on ‘56th Annual.’ Too many colors used throughout ad especially on the type fonts. ‘56th Annual’ doesn’t need to be so prominent and should not have a white box behind it. ‘Keetoowah Celebration’ should be the headline and moved to the top. The small amount of body copy doesn’t tell the viewer anything about the event. Their United Keetoowah Band logo should be seen in its entirety or not used at all.

 

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Busy plus clichéd equals eyesore                                                                


Ad is very clichéd in concept and execution. Overall it is a very busy ad with weak headline layout. There are three font families used for a four word headline. Too much color is used overall in the text. Avoid star bursts for call outs on prices. If clipart was eliminated the top pool image could be enlarged to show more detail. Move smaller images up next to centered main pool image. Floor plan layout should be moved down towards the bottom of the layout next to the map and reduced in size. It is of lesser importance to immediately sell the property.

 

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Too many partners                                                                                       


This ad suffers from too many partners and poor layout. There are too many elements to have a background photo used. Simplify type fonts used on upper third of ad and limit color use on fonts to one or two. Contact information could be moved to the bottom of page along with map of Florida. Secondary partner listings should be arranged in a symmetrical arrangement.

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A lesson on what not to do with every element                                            


No hierarchy on this ad. Headline is over-designed but has little punch because it is fighting for prominence with photos and copy that’s too large. Is it really ‘all-new’ or how long has it been ‘all-new'. Avoid trite text when possible. Too much reversed out white text and too much text overlapping photos. There is no order to the placement of the images on the layout. There is no consistency on the photo borders. Treatment on bottom logos should be more consistent in quality.

 

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Too much, too small 

No hierarchy to images. There are too many images for a small ad. Marginal image quality was used on all four photos. Oval shapes are inconsistent and clash with the vertical lines running in background element.

 

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Poorly utilized space                                                                                    


This ad suffers from too much blue space. All the photos are medium resolution and have no hierarchy.

Body copy would benefit from a better layout and not centered and grouped all over the space. An intriguing heading would aid the development of this ad along with one much larger high quality photo.

Contact information is well placed.

 

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