A rough set of rules for great advertising

All creative pursuits benefit from guidelines for best practice, if only so they can be broken. Here our advertising correspondent Ben Kay turns to his LinkedIn companions to help construct some for marketing

Advertising is a strange and unique discipline in that it has so little regard for the past. Sure, some of you might flick through the odd D&AD annual, but how far back do you go? All the way to the 1990s? Maybe, on a really dull day, 1988?

Imagine if musicians only looked back as far as the Stone Roses, or filmmakers stopped at Do The Right Thing. Or if lawyers weren’t familiar with the age-old cases that established modern law. How about doctors ignoring Grey’s Anatomy?

You might argue that the underpinnings of those disciplines have greater longevity, that artistic pursuits develop at a rate that renders their earlier examples obsolete, and that Roddy Ricch probably doesn’t listen to much Sinatra.

And you could probably get by in advertising without looking back beyond 2010. But maybe the whole industry would do better if it really knew its onions. That way it might not have to start from scratch when it comes to effective client presentations, attention-grabbing advertising, the merits of smaller logos etc.

So, with that in mind, I asked my LinkedIn connections for the rules/guidelines/incontrovertible truths of advertising that might form a basic primer for anyone who has no idea why newspaper headlines occasionally say “It does exactly what it says on the tin” and movies still include the odd “Whassup”.

Many suggestions came down to making sure ads are both simple and engaging. You’d like to think we wouldn’t have to remind clients of that, but look at the average poster site or digital banner: complicated and boring seem to be far more common. Anyway, here are the favourites, and a couple of mine: