An Absolute Commercial Necessity

Advertising that surprises, entertains or provokes a reaction is much more likely to be noticed and remembered.

That’s certainly not to say these things should be the sole aim of advertising. It’s not good enough to be entertaining just for entertainment’s sake, or shocking just for shock value.

The surprise, entertainment or provocation needs to serve a purpose – it has to be there to make the benefit of the product and the brand more noticeable and memorable.

This should be a guiding principle behind the development and direction of advertising ideas.

This is becoming increasingly important as we are bombarded with more advertising and information than ever before, and we are becoming ever more adept at screening out any uninteresting and irrelevant noise.

Sadly, most current advertising falls into the category of dull, irrelevant or uninteresting.

Clients and agencies often agonise over their strategy, but then package it up in bland or formulaic advertising that completely passes the viewer by. 

This means that making your advertising surprising, thought-provoking, interesting or entertaining (in a way that makes the product benefit and brand more noticeable and memorable) is not a stylistic or indulgent choice, as it is so often portrayed.

It is an absolute commercial necessity.

For more pithy challenging of received wisdom, our new book ‘How To Make Better Advertising and Advertising Better – The Manifesto for a New Creative Revolution’ – is available exclusively at the Design Museum.


  1. It's amazing that this needs to be said. You pretty much expect people who work in advertising to have this understanding installed in their DNA. Amazingly it's the opposite. People actively go out of their way to make their own ads worse, more boring and similar.
    I don't get it.

    1. I think it may well be a fear thing. Fear of being offensive in some way or getting complaints or the ASA knocking on your door. We don't live in very challenging times do we? Just stick a cat or a puppy in the ad and be done with it.