CAMPAIGN-I PERSPECTIVE: It's not the format but the content of an ad that counts

For the past couple of years creative people have delighted in

kicking the banner in the bollocks and proclaiming it 'dead'. Lynch-mobs

of designers, art directors and copywriters can always be found lurking

in the dark corners of the trade press, baying for the blood of those

villainous little rectangles.

The same old war cries can be heard wheezing out from behind every Mac

in the land. Come on lads, thump the oblong bastards!

Kick 'em in the pixels! Go on - knock 12k out of 'em!

Enough. This constant mewing about whether or not the 'banner is dead'

is now quite boring and not a little tedious. Why do people insist on

blaming the canvas?

It's meant to be what's displayed on it that matters.

When TV commercials were only available in black and white, did they

come rubber-stamped with an apology stating that they would work better

if they were in colour?

Granted, with banners there are plenty of constraints. But this should

be seen as a good thing. There's nothing to hide behind, no sanctuary

for execution-driven creatives. In the absence of high production

values, it's the quality of the creative idea that makes the


I think this infatuation with slagging off banners is due to three


First, it's currently a fashionable opinion to have; denounce banner ads

and you instantly become a nappy jean-wearing web guru.

Second, it's a convenient excuse for the conceptually challenged and/or

prima donnas - 'Sorry, darling, but I simply don't DO banners. My art

only manifests itself in formats that are so of the now they've not even

been invented yet.' And third, it's a knee-jerk reaction to the

apparently low click-through rates of banner ads in general.

But, of course, average click-through rates are low.

This is simply due to the fact that such a large proportion of banner

ads are dull, uninspiring, invisible and written by people with no

interest or experience in advertising, which drags down the


The truth is this: if an idea for an ad is good enough, if it's

attention-grabbing, emphatic and persuasive, then it'll probably work in

any shape and in any size.

And don't even think about giving me that

But-Nobody-Notices-Banners-Anyway sob story with your bottom lip

dragging all over the floor. That whole angle, that whole universe, is

rat wee.

Any good creative knows that even a single word on a white background

has the potential to stand out from the noise. It just has to try hard


All in all blaming the banner is, well, a dead concept. Did someone say

concept? Now there's an idea.


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