More than any other medium, posters demand a good, simple idea. With TV and radio it is much easier to dress up a bad idea and get away with it. Although you can’t do any kind of ad without a fact to base it on, posters push the issue, or the lack of it, right to the front.
Look at the two PEP ads, for example. Jupiter breaks just about every rule on posters. The headline doesn’t mean anything, the logo appears twice in different sizes, and there is more copy than in War and Peace.
But there is a fact buried in the ad: “130 per cent growth over five years.” Presumably, that’s a good performance, so why not make that the focus of the ad, instead of burying it under the headline? On the other hand, the Perpetual poster might not win any awards for elegance, but it has found a benefit – tax-free income – and made that the point of the ad.
The Virgin campaign is probably my favourite of this batch of posters, although the “leg-room” ad is making rather a well-worn point. But the free massage poster – “BA doesn’t give a shiatsu” – has a simple message, a nice cheeky feel which fits the brand, plus an appropriate tone of voice. It proves that you don’t need more than five words to make your point on a poster.