Fundamental Advertising Principles

Behind every method for bringing goods to the notice of the public are certain sound principles.

By HENRY ARGENT, Foreman, Stanborough Press, England

Behind every method for bringing goods to the notice of the public are certain sound principles. The first is based on repetition; the second on argument; the third does not advertise the goods at all, but brings forward a desired objective achieved by use of the goods. All three must have their place in the evangelist's advertising. Our problem is how to give them their place in handbills, posters, window cards, press advertisements, free literature cards, etc.

The approach to the public is constantly changing. With the change in the appeal, there has come also a change in typography. From heavy, grotesque letters we passed to dainty types that were so beautiful that they were difficult to read, and a decade or so ago we were filling our display pages with as many different kinds of type and ornament as it was possible to get into the space. Then harmony became the great obsession. Neat types were ranged in even-spaced lines down the center of the page, enclosed in borders, matched, and printed with inks that toned. A somniferous anemia seemed to take possession of prin­terdom.

Balance, harmony, and tone are all-impor­tant. They are the fundamentals of display, and must be understood. Add to them contrast and vibration, and you have all the elements for modern display at its best.

"Functionalism" is the latest word in dis­play. I am not sure that I know what it means, except perhaps that frills and meaning­less ornament must not be allowed to obscure the purpose of the display. The message is all-important. .Spots, rules, ornament, and type must all combine to emphasize the message. Display that calls attention to itself defeats its purpose. The typographer must be behind the scenes—and stay there. That definitely rules out all freakishness and straining for effect. Simplicity is the keynote of modern display. Freshness and vigor are its hallmark.

Four Essentials to 'Fell

When you have arranged all the details of your campaign and are ready to tell the world, you have four things to tell: (r) who you are; (2) what you are to speak about; (3) where you are to speak; and (4) where the meetings are to be held.

Words and pictures speak. Lines, ornaments, spots, and such things shout, but say nothing. They are useful to draw the eyes to the words, but they must not hold the at­tention. Use them only when you must. Your difficulty will be to arrange a number of lines of unequal length, mostly short, on a wide bill. Rules, or lines, will help you to preserve shape and balance. Up-to-date journalism puts all the story into the first sentence, and up-to-date display puts all the message into the first glance.

Of the four things you have to tell, you and your subject are the most important. For the first few weeks it is your subject and you. You are pictured, and your subject is in words. Make both so prominent in all your advertis­ing that they can be taken in at a glance. Every advertising piece will then support every other piece that you put out.

In making your layouts, draw them, no matter how roughly, on a piece of paper the same size as your poster, handbill, or whatever it may be. The best arrangement is obtained when the weight of balance is slightly above the center. You can then see what space you have left for details. When you have written in all that must be told, you can add lines for balance or to separate items, and add spots to call attention to your attractions. But re­member that every time you put your pencil on your layout, you are taking something from the compelling power of your main lines.

Perhaps the one virtue of the folder is that less important matter can be put on the back page. Against this, I would ask, How often do you open a folder on a subject in which you are not interested? When you make a layout for a folder, you must remember that there is this inertia to be overcome. There­fore the front page must be so compelling that readers feel they must know more. Or you may rely merely on technical tricks or sugges­tion. By technical tricks I mean folds that leave part of the inside showing, or cut cor­ners, and that sort. Even the crude sugges­tion to "see inside" is better than nothing. If both the suggestion and the unusual cut or fold are used, it is possible that the folder will be opened.

There is no uniformity of opinion even among commercial advertising experts con­cerning the relative value of the various me­diums. Thomas Russell, who was responsible for much of the recruiting advertising during the war, says:

"A poster is seen by more people in a given time than any other advertisement. Posters are seen by every class of the public from royalty to the denizens of the doss house and are about equally effective with all of them. The poster is essentially a somewhat blatant, forcible advertising medium."

It would seem from this that he looked on the poster as the most effective medium for local advertising for quick results. Window bills are really part of a poster campaign. Handbills have always seemed to me to be just last-minute reminders. Distributed a fort­night before the campaign opens, they will be lost and forgotten, unless, indeed, they are works of genius.

In all your advertising you must make your display so legible and your matter so force­ful, that he who runs may read, and "he may run that readeth."

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By HENRY ARGENT, Foreman, Stanborough Press, England

September 1939

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