The Long-Format Print Ad

Taking over a media-obsessed culture.

We've all heard the old saying that a great brand should tell a story. In 2010, the same can be said for a print ad. A powerful marketing campaign shouldn't just inform, it should entertain, which is why advertisers are turning in ever-greater numbers to the long-format print ad.

Just a few examples of long-format advertising include:

While the rule of thumb is to keep copy lean and tight in print, conceptions of how much content consumers are willing to engage with in an ad are being challenged by design with a focus on storytelling. This means not just putting across the overall impression of a storyline, but actually telling a story with your ad. Consider, for example, the graphic novel-style catalog.

In the graphic novel catalog, product images are arranged to tell a story, or at least part of a story, in a linear, progressive fashion. Depending on the brand, and on the target consumer, that story could be one of romance, adventure, comedy, mystery, or even sci-fi or fantasy.

The focus of a graphic novel catalog is, in fact, the story being told. The advertised products function as the heroes' accessories and tools (as in a clothing or technology catalog) or as the heroes themselves (for example, a story can be written around the daring adventures and bold exploits of a cell phone, a piece of real estate, or a tomato).

picturetellsastory *Although graphic novels are traditionally illustrated, a graphic novel catalog can easily make use of evocative photography to tell its tale.

The graphic novel catalog should include frame-by-frame plot progression, snappy dialog, and arresting visuals. However, using these elements shouldn't make it more difficult to produce than any other thoughtful, high-quality catalog, and the benefit is increased engagement with the viewer, who will read the entire story (if it's a good one) without realizing they've just spent twenty minutes browsing through a catalog.

Graphic novel catalogs can also be easily transposed into web form, made readable on smartphones, and printed, in part, on different formats like posters, brochures, and mailers.

This is just one of many ways that a long-format print ad can turn marketing into entertainment, and reach whole new depths of engagement with the consumer.

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