In these days of digital media, it's easy to overlook the art of print ads. But the medium is still as relevant and powerful as vintage posters ever were, whether small scale magazine ads or huge billboard advertising.
As Paul Arden states in It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be: "Print advertising should be recognisable at a hundred paces, and it should be obvious who it's an ad for without seeing the brand name."
No matter what the medium, you still need a concept that's going to stick in people's minds. We think these examples of print advertising do just that.
If there's one thing we all know about KFC, it's that it's finger-lickin' good, and it's this irrefutable fact that's inspired this series of frankly unsettling print ads. In them, everyday objects suddenly sprout mouths wherever your fingers might touch them, in the hope of licking off a little of the Colonel's chickeny goodness. It's the work of Zane Zhou, along with LamanoStudio in Chile. Thanks for tonight's nightmares, guys.
02. Kiss with Pride
It's been 50 years since homosexuality was decriminalised in England and Wales, but today it's still illegal in 72 countries around the world – and punishable by death in eight. To highlight this fact, Absolut, in collaboration with LGBTQ charity Stonewall and BBH London, created this series featuring close-up shots of same-sex kisses, with many of the subjects coming from the countries where these kisses could land them in prison, or worse.
03. Pass the Heinz
If these clever adverts for Heinz look kind of familiar, it's with good reason. They originally featured in an episode of Mad Men where Don Draper tried to pitch a series of ads showing food that goes great with ketchup, but without the ketchup itself visible. Draper argued that people would fill in the gaps for themselves and create a stronger association in their mind, but Heinz wasn't going for it. Now, however, the company's changed its mind and, with DAVID Miami, rolled out these near-exact reproductions of Draper's pitch; talk about a man ahead of his time.
04. Burger King
Burger King prides itself on flame-grilling its burgers rather than frying them, but we all know how fire can misbehave if you don't keep a close eye on it, right? Burger King holds the record for the most restaurants that have burned down since 1954, and that's the brilliant angle seized by DAVID Miami in one of its many innovative campaigns for the company, using genuine photos of blazing BKs to emphasise how it cooks its burgers.
05. Delta Dating Wall
According to Delta, world travellers are more likely to attract right swipes on Tinder, but what if you can't afford to go away to snap that perfect profile pic? That's what Delta – along with Wieden + Kennedy New York and Colossal Media – addresses with the Delta Dating Wall, an epic advert in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, featuring exotic backdrops that you can stand against for a selfie, instantly making you a lot more windswept and interesting.
Wieden+Kennedy London was tasked with raising the profile of Chambord among a target audience of women aged 24-35. It used the campaign to push back against the pressure on women to conform to certain rules with its "Because No Reason" tagline that encourages people to do what they like, just because they like it.
07. TK Maxx
You never know what you'll find when you go shopping in TK Maxx, and this aspect of the designer discount shop is brought to the fore by this campaign emphasising the "ridiculous possibilities" that lie inside.
The meaning of the tagline "See whatever you want to see" is smartly turned on its head with a series of images that can be seen in two ways: one way it's a deer, the other way it's a penguin.
09. Penguin Audiobooks
You've got to give it to the Miami Ad School – taking a company that have made their worth through the selling of paper books, this print ad is a bold step but one that we think works really well. The intricate illsutration in the bark is a lovely touch.
Ogilvy & Mather once again prove themselves as print advertisement masters with this clever approach to allergy medicine. Using simple yet effective colours and simple illustrations means that this is an ad that pops from the page.
11. UNEP: Skyline
Print advertisments raising awareness of important causes such as global warming have to be instantly striking. This offering from Vinay Saya and Siddarth Basavaraj cleverly uses Photoshop to produce a skyline within the ice. Bringing the campaign closer to home will enable the viewer to recognise the message quicker and more effectively.
12. Fevikwik Instant Adhesive: Teapot
Ogilvy & Mather are known for creating some of the best print advertisements around the world. This is just another example of their brilliant work. Created for Fevikwik Instant Adhesive, it's one of a three-part print advertisement series that uses clever illustration and a monochrome colour scheme to its fullest potential.
13. Rolling Stone
Created by DLV BBDO in Milan, Italy, this simple execution works wonders for music magazine Rolling Stone. With a brilliant tag line 'We are made of rock,' the brand's attitudes, product and ethos are effortlessly put across with this print advertisement. Using a signature-like font also showcases the rock star aesthetic.
14. Ashtanga Yoga
Created by Israel based advertising agency McCann Erickson, this print ad for Ashtanga Yoga hones in on the benefits of yoga practise for your back. With a tag line "Before your back attacks you, Ashtanga Yoga at the Garage fitness club", it's a brilliantly inventive ad.
15. Clinica Mosquera
Although this print advertisement might be a bit too graphic for some, we love how Ecuador advertising agency BBA has applied playful imagery to a sore subject. The 3D rendering is brilliant with everything from the colour to the shading popping out of the page.
16. Penguin Books
Last year, Penguin Books promoted its audiobooks with a brilliant print ad campaign featuring illustrations of three well known authors - William Shakespeare, Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde - acting as headphones and whispering in the ears of their listeners.
Developed by team at McCann Worldgroup India, the campaign went on to won a Gold Press Lion at Cannes International Festival of Creativity
17. Moms Demand Action
Moms Demand Action, a collective of mothers calling for gun law reform, was behind this hard-hitting ad campaign, which focused on children in schools.
'Choose One' features children carrying weapons, alongside classmates holding either a Kinder Surprise egg, the book 'Little Red Riding Hood' and a ball from the schoolyard game Dodgeball. One child is holding something that's been banned in America to protect them, with the audience asked to guess which one.
This ingenious pad campaign by Ogilvy & Mather for travel brand Expedia uses airport IATA codes to great effect. The idea came about after the team noticed a woman walking through Heathrow with the word FUK hanging off her suitcase.
With over 9,000 airports around the world, each with its own three-letter code to choose from, the team created a series of prints, using a tagline in the form of passport stamp, which says 'Find whatever floats your boat'.
Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Whiskas campaign features a household cat in various scenarios in the wild of Africa. Highlighting the basic instincts in a cat, the clever 'Big Cat, Small Cat' campaign was shot by photographer George Logan.
Depicting a small furry feline as a big cat in the wild, the series of prints include the domestic animal hunting down gazelles, elephants and zebras in the wild. And we're particularly fond of the ad that shows fully grown male lion bonding with the same cat as if they were family.
When you have such an iconic product as the Mini, you don't always have to do something particularly clever or involved to make your point. And this silly campaign, casting the much-loved motor in an uncharacteristically sinister light, struck just the right note of fun for us last Halloween.
Earlier this month, BBDO Spain released this powerful print ad campaign for the World Wildlife Fund. Featuring a white polar bear in a garage workshop, the aim is to highlight that there are no tools that can fix extinction.
22. Velo marathon
We love this design for the European Velo Marathon, an annual biking event in which around 10,000 cyclists take part. Designed by McCann Erickson, Lithuania, the clever concept features a city-like scene set on the gears of a bike, accompanied by the tagline 'Move the City'.
To advertise the fact that you can get more than 620 miles out of single tank of fuel with Volkswagen's Amarok, ad agency Below developed a series of print ads, inviting people to 'turn on adventure'. The clever concept features three images with the groves of the car keys transformed into a city, safari and mountain landscape.
24. Alzas Bajas magazine
This beautiful print ad was developed by JWT, Buenos Aires for Argentinian magazine Alzas Bajas. The team created four paper art images, including this gorgeous wildlife scene. Each are accompanied a small amount of explanatory text followed by the tagline 'more information, less risk'.
McDonald's is constantly coming up with innovative new ways of advertising, this brilliant print ad being its latest offering. The eye-catching design, created by TBWA Shanghai, features a box of fries, carved from the very ingredient from which they're made.
Next page: 25 more brilliant examples of print ads