After much research, Donald Gunn, creative director for the advertising agency Leo Burnett, determined that nearly all good ads fall into one of 12 categories -- "master formats," in his words.This slide show presents some recent ads exemplifying each of Gunn's 12 basic categories.
- "show the need or problem"
- "symbol, analogy or exaggerated graphic"
- "exemplary story"
- "benefit causes story"
- "tell it," presenter, testimonial, or "A-tells-B"
- "ongoing characters and celebrities"
- "symbol, analogy, or exaggerated graphic" demonstrating a benefit of the product.
- "associated user imagery"
- "unique personality property"
- "parody or borrowed format"
To me, the 12 formats serve equally well as a weapon of defense for the consumer under assault from endless advertising messages. It's like learning how a magic trick works: Once the secret's revealed, the trick loses all its power.