My Favorite Ads This Quarter

Living in Los Angeles and working in marketing, I see more ads than I ever have. Most campaigns are forgettable, and don’t impact their audience. Even worse, many try to be too creative, and come off as cheesy or annoying.

A couple campaigns catch my eye this quarter, and I want to praise a job well done.

The Grinch Campaign

Take a look at these billboards and then I’ll tell you why I think they cut through the clutter.

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These billboards stand out from the others for one reason: they’re targeted.

I’ve seen a lot of these ads around Los Angeles, and they always impress me. They include location-specific one-liners that effortlessly speak to the locals and capture the Grinch’s signature tone. I’ve seen ads around Venice that say “Stop moving to Venice. It’s full.” This is a common sentiment among locals, and The Grinch gives the grump in each of us something to identify with.

Obviously a campaign like this requires more work and research than a one-and-done slogan and design. But the impact outworks the effort in this case, making the campaign a huge winner in my book.

The Grinch is one of cinema’s best-loved villains, and the agency could have gotten away with writing something that read, “Get mean with us this Christmas” and no one would have batted an eye. But instead, they sought to turn heads, and it worked.

In addition, the billboards’ simple two negative-space design and two-color approach makes them digestible, even at high speeds in a car.

Know Your Girls Campaign

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The Know Your Girls campaign is huge winner because it knows its audience.

This public health campaign seeks to bring awareness to the harrowing fact that black women in the U.S. are about 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. Obviously, featuring all black women is a no-brainer for this campaign, but the way they do it is unexpectedly inclusive and humanizing. Instead of going the typical stock-photo route featuring a black woman sporting a fake smile, they photographed real women of many different ages, shapes, sizes, and demeanors.

This gives many black women who see this ad someone to relate to. Someone their age, with a hairstyle like someone they know. It also creates a communal feel, which is essential for culture change around education and regular checkups.

The second reason I love this campaign is the copywriting and the typographical hierarchy.

The phrase “know your girls” comes from the common personification of breasts as “girls”. While many campaigns try to get their own slogans to catch on, this campaign piggy-backs on another common expression, creating an even more relatable and natural feel. The typographical hierarchy (Know your breasts like you Know Your Girls.org) puts an emphasis on the website call-to-action, without wasting space or cluttering the ad.

Common Threads

Both The Know Your Girls campaign and the Grinch campaign share some common principles. Check out my list below:

  • Negative Space - These ads didn’t clutter their real estate with large text, mini paragraphs, or intrusive design. The centered sentences brought an unusual focus and tidiness that you don’t see in outdoor advertising very often.

  • Targeted Audience - Both of these campaigns understand who their audience is. The Grinch Campaign focuses on locals and the Know Your Girls Campaign focuses on real black women. Instead of trying to impress everyone, these campaigns focus on impacting a few.

  • Conversational Tone - Neither of these campaigns get sales-y or tried to coin a new slogan. They bring a conversational tone to a commercial space and it works.

  • Relatability - Both of these campaigns bring a relatable human element. The Grinch campaign could have said “The best movie of the holidays!” and boasted above its onlookers. The Know Your Girls campaign could have featured an aspirational subject living a fake life. But it would have lost connection with 90% of the women it seeks to impact! The relatability is huge for both these campaigns, and they both hit home runs.

I encourage you to take these principles into your next campaign and try them out!

Joshua Reese