Monday, September 2, 2013

Personification in Advertising (an example)

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At the company where I work, I was recently tasked with creating an advertising campaign for a local hearing aid business. I employed the technique of personification to distinguish the ads in this campaign not only from the competition, but also from most health care ads in general. I'll have more to say on that later. The ad above is one of the ads from this campaign.

Personification is the technique of endowing inanimate objects or abstractions with human-like characteristics. For this campaign I took the product, hearing aids, and gave them personalities. In some of the ads I accomplished this simply by using speech bubbles but in others I also added some props (with the help of Adobe Photoshop of course.)

Here are other ads I created within this campaign:

We human beings are very good communicators (in spite of what we see in the divorce courts of America and the world news headlines). In fact, we can easily say so much to each other with a slight facial cue, a subtle gesture or a minor change in our posture. When it comes to human communication, even a simple picture really can “say” a thousand words.

That’s one reason photos of people are so often used in advertising. If you want to convince people that they will be satisfied by purchasing your product, employing your service or voting for your candidate then just use photos of smiling, happy, satisfied people. It’s a quick, efficient and relatively easy solution, one which some sectors of the marketplace seem to use more heavily than others. One such sector is health care, where there is certainly no shortage of photos showing smiling, happy, satisfied people living lives of rejuvenation and fulfillment.

However, the popularity of this approach to advertising can actually create a problem. Taken by itself, a well designed ad showing a satisfied customer may be very effective. But place this ad into the crowded and competitive marketplace surrounded by similarly formulated ads and the message gets lost. When your message looks like everyone else’s message you run the risk that the audience will either confuse your ad with all of the other ads which look just like yours or that they will simply glaze over and ignore your ad all together.

As a graphic designer, you often find yourself faced with the need to do something different, something other than what is expected. This kind of problem solving is the challenging (yet extremely fun) part of a graphic designer’s job. At such times, personification is your friend. When you need an alternative solution to yet another photo of a smiling child or a satisfied senior citizen, let your product play that role.

Did you find this article helpful or interesting? Do you have anything you would like to add? Feel free to leave a comment.