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  • Writer's pictureStephen Morgan

What makes a great ad?

Updated: Jan 4

A great advertisement is one that effectively captures your intended audience's attention, communicating a compelling message that elicits a positive response or action. While the criteria for greatness can vary based on the goals and context of the ad, some common elements outlined below effectively contribute to the success of an advertisement:

Clear Objective:

A great ad has a clear and well-defined objective. Whether it's to raise awareness, drive sales, or build brand loyalty, the purpose of the ad should be evident from the start.

Understanding Your Audience:

Successful ads resonate with their target audience. Understanding the demographics, interests, and preferences of the target market allows advertisers to create content that connects on a personal level.

Creativity and Originality:

Great ads often stand out due to their creativity and originality. They break through the clutter by offering a fresh perspective, a unique concept, or a novel approach that captures attention. Think laterally, rather than literally. An ad should not be simply wallpaper—pretty but forgettable. An ad should not be so beautiful as to be pleasing but forgettable; a great ad forcefully grabs your attention with an element of creative tension and then holds on to it.

Compelling Storytelling:

Storytelling is a powerful tool in advertising, after all we aren’t called “Brand & Story” for nothing. A great ad tells a story that engages emotions, creating a memorable and meaningful connection with the audience.

Emotional Appeal:

Ads that evoke emotions are more likely to leave a lasting impact. Whether it's humour, nostalgia, empathy, or inspiration, a strong emotional appeal can make an ad more memorable.

Visual Appeal:

High-quality visuals, that most definitely include attention-grabbing imagery and well-considered graphics, contribute to the overall impact of an ad. Visual elements should complement and enhance the message. Consider visual elements that are lateral interpretations rather than a literal “See, Say” approach that can be expected, and therefore boring.

Relevance and Context:

A great ad is relevant to the current cultural context and resonates with what is happening in the world. It should also be suitable for the platform where it is displayed, considering the medium and audience. Talk with your audience, not to them.

Simplicity and Clarity:

Complex messages can be overwhelming for viewers. Great ads often convey their message in a clear and concise manner, making it easy for the audience to understand and remember. Think about the one single takeaway you want the reader/viewer to take away from your ad and be sure to say it more than one time.


Memorable ads are more likely to be recalled by the audience. Whether through a catchy jingle, a memorable tagline, or a distinctive visual element, creating something that lingers in the viewer's mind is a key aspect of greatness.

Consistency with Branding:

Great ads align with the overall branding of the product or service. Consistency in messaging, tone, and visual elements helps reinforce brand identity and recognition.

Effectiveness in Various Formats:

A great ad is versatile and can adapt to different formats and platforms. Whether it's a TV commercial, print ad, social media post, or online video, the core message remains impactful.

Call to Action (CTA):

A strong ad prompts the audience to take action. Whether it's making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or visiting a website, a clear and compelling call to action guides the viewer on what to do next.

Measurable Impact:

Ideally, a great ad has a measurable impact on the audience and achieves its intended goals. This could involve tracking metrics such as increased sales, brand awareness, or customer engagement.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of an ad is subjective and depends on how well it resonates with its target audience. Testing and gathering feedback can help advertisers refine their approach and create more impactful campaigns over time. And of course, if the ad is truly great consider submitting it to award shows for further reach.


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