Packed posters

A simple guideline for designing posters – ask yourself, “How long will people stand in front of the poster and take everything in?”. The answer will normally be, around a second.

I was once told that a poster should be a simple headline – better still your slogan – with a picture underneath of the product champion. And never plaster tons of details on a poster. A couple of years ago I saw this poster below, for a consumer electronics store (that, coincidentally, has since gone bust). Not only did I think, doh, look at all that content. I also recognised it as the same ad I’d seen the day before in a magazine. Surely the agency could have adapted the content for the medium?!


Now, this isn’t to say that all posters like this are bad. Maybe, in the right place, this would get people as they go to the shops. But sadly this was positioned on a long corridor on the underground. Wrong. Interest level: next to zero.

In the 80s, BMW ran a poster campaign plastered with the detailed technical specifications of one of their cars. It was too much info. But deliberately so. They knew no-one would read it all – but the message came across: this is a technical masterpiece. It was also a pat on the back to confident BMW drivers to confirm “you made the right decision”.

But ideally a poster just has a few words, plus the product champion. As with these two Henkel ads I snipped on the same day in the Stuttgart underground:



Or better still:


But, sadly, the two posters were slap-bang next to each other. A common mistake when media buyers book en bloc. They gain economies of scales, but sometimes pitch competiting brands against each other, as in this case: both from the same company! Oops.

Alex Woodruff

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