Clutter-Cutting Ads that Command Attention…and Sales


Ever seen an ad online or on TV and thought – wow, that was cool, I wonder what it was for?

You probably didn’t think twice about it – after all, you go online and watch TV for entertainment, not ads – but somewhere in the world a brand manager is cringing – big time – because it was their job to get you to pause and consider whatever brand or product paid thousands of dollars for that ad.

Today’s focus on “clutter-cutting” creative is a refreshing breath of fresh air on the heels of the “make the logo bigger” era. But there’s a fine line between clutter-cutting and downright confusing – and an even more important tightrope that must be walked to connect the clutter-cutting spot to the brand it’s meant to promote.

So, how do you create ads that cut through the noise while also achieving business goals?

The answer is to start with strategy, and let the strategy guide the creative, not the other way around.

It seems simple enough, but sometimes, as brands struggle to stand out they abandon their strategy and brand promise in favor of shiny ad formats, the latest technology platform, or “guaranteed to go viral” ideas. The problem emerges when these “viral ideas” aren’t connected to the brand promise or messaging strategy at all. They look cool – and may even get people’s attention – but they fail to convert that attention to deeper engagement with the brand. Ten million ad impressions are irrelevant if all those people still have no idea who you are, what you sell, or what you stand for.

To connect the dots, everything needs to start with strategy and brand positioning. What do you most want your audience to know about your brand or the products or services you sell? What are the brand promise or values that are critical to communicate? What is unique and different about your brand? When you’ve clearly identified these key strategic elements, THEN it’s time to brainstorm a creative way to communicate THOSE MESSAGES. The choice of technology platform, the tone of the creative, how the creative makes the consumer feel – everything should ladder up to those key strategic elements. We don’t just want to command attention – we want to direct it.

Think about how you can connect your brand values to stories that pull on people’s heartstrings, inspire them, or make them laugh. Think about ways to communicate your message that are unexpected and truly engaging. Can you tell your story without words? Can you communicate your message using only music? Now is the time to think outside the box and push the limits of what an “ad” looks like and how your story can be told in an innovative way.

Clutter-cutting creative is critical in today’s crowded ad space – but it will only deliver results if it’s grounded in strategy first.

About Ethos

Ethos is a multiplatform branding agency that develops and executes integrated marketing campaigns across multiple channels for companies inside and outside of Maine.

At Ethos, we believe that the most effective way to set a company’s marketing course is by finding its core truth – its ethos. We know that once we discover and communicate that core truth, we can truly make a difference for each client’s unique marketing and business objectives.

With Ethos, you get more than a marketing agency. You get a long-term partner whose goals are your goals.

Learn more about the Ethos approach and the work we’ve done for our clients. Want to have a conversation about your brand’s core truth? Contact us!

Written By

The ETHOS Team