99 Brilliantly Clever Print Ads

99 Brilliantly Clever Print Ads

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Having a print advertisement be successful these days is something that takes a lot more than putting an image and a catchphrase on a piece of paper. That’s why we put together this list featuring the best print ads.

With the importance of social media being higher than ever, using all of the resources available can become a major part of the process. While many companies may prefer to advertise online or through television, there are some print ads which when the execution and the words are perfect, can have an enormous impact.

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Adobe Creative Cloud Discount

Usually, creative companies use artwork approval software to avoid miscommunication and big fails before printing. As you know, it can cost a fortune to redo everything when someone misses a single letter.

For our list of the best print ads, we pulled together the ones that made us laugh, were extremely impressive, a bit controversial, hard-hitting and brilliant.

Also see our articles on how to build your brand and our post on creative photography ideas.

Top 25 Best Print Ads – Advertisement Examples (2024)

#1 “Hulk Have Boo-Boo”

Creative advertising poster - 'Hulk Have Boo-Boo' print ad by Band-Aid

In this imaginative and humorous ad, Band-Aid highlights the flexible fabric of their bandages by showing the Incredible Hulk’s hand with a bandage on it. Hulk’s alter ego is Bruce Banner who transforms into the Hulk when he gets angry. We’re left to assume that Bruce was already wearing the bandage.

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#2 “Shhhhhhhh”

Smartest Ad - JBL Noise Cancelling Headphones

This ad was created by Cheil Worldwide Hong Kong with the campaign title of “Block Out The Chaos”. The beautiful art direction uses 3D illustrations and negative space to portray how well their noise-canceling headphones work. With quite a few different variations out there, the Donald Trump/Kim Jong Un one spoke to us the most.

#3 The Perils of Parallel Parking

Best Print Advertising - Volkswagen 'Precision Parking'
Developed by DBB Tribal, the Volkswagon ad campaign put a focus on the company’s new park assist feature by highlighting the risks that can be associated when you tightly park between two cars. This ad uses animal symbolism to send a message of being able to safely park using the vehicles’ newest feature.

#4 “On Your Left”

Best Print Ad - iPod Shuffle 'iRun'
Designed by Steve Quint, the iPod shuffle headphones smartly map out the user’s running route in this ad. This kind of imagery can take a typical use of a product and present it in a creative way that consumers will be able to relate to.

#5 “FORE!!”

Top Creative Ads - 2012 Women's Golf Classic print ad by MasterCard
Over the years Mastercard has put out many different types of print ads showing how their card can make experiences priceless. As a sponsor of the 2012 Women’s Golf Classic, MasterCard hired MacLAREN McCANN who combined a traditional image of a golf ball on a tee with a high heel shoe. The result is an amazing ad that speaks directly to their demographic without any confusion.

#6 – Colgate Floss

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Best Creative Ad - Colgate Floss

With a minimalist design, Colgate commissioned Y&R to create this ad for their dental floss. The focus on the seeds in the fruit paints a real picture for anyone who has ever gotten a seed caught between their teeth.

#7 – Fleas off, please!

Best Creative Print Ads - 'Fleas: Get Them Off Your Dog' floor print ad by Frontline Flea & Tick Spray, where pedestrians create an optical illusion of fleas on a Golden Retriever.
Designed by Pervanal Saatchi & Saatchi, this ad for Frontline Flea & Tick Spray was installed as a giant floor sticker in a shopping mall in Jakarta, Indonesia. From higher levels, the people walking on the picture look like fleas on and off the dog. This is a great way to use perspective and imagery in an advertisement.

#8 – “We are made of Rock”

Best Print Advertising - 'We are made of Rock' print ad by Rolling Stone Magazine, with a ribcage, heart and spine shaped liked a guitar.
Designed by Italy’s own DLV BBDO, the image, as well as the handwritten tag line, fit a music magazine like Rolling Stone perfectly. The image is very readable and portrays the magazine’s attitude, ethos and most importantly, the product perfectly.

#9 – Finger Lickin Good!

KFC - Finger Lickin' Good print ad, showing an iPhone's home button with an open mouth and tongue.
If you own a phone that looks like this, you may want to upgrade. Now. Designed by Zame Zhou, along with LamanoStudio from Chile, the company’s famous tagline of “Finger Lickin Good” is taken to new heights with their inventive take of putting mouths waiting to taste the KFC chicken on surfaces that our fingers normally touch. Other ads in this series included a keyboard and a video games controller. As inventive as it is, it is also nightmare-inducing.

#10 – What if they were gone?

Inspirational Ad - World Wildlife Fund - 'Desertification destroys 6,000 species every year.' A genius ad showing an elephant dissolving into sand dust.
The World Wildlife Fund uses striking imagery to get their message of helping to save endangered species across. With their “Desertification” campaign, they use striking images of some of the most amazing animals turning to dust. This kind of ad can create an emotional response in people and start conversations about what can be done to help

#11 – You eat what they eat

Best Creative Print Ads - Sea Shepard

Designed by Pervanal Saatchi & Saatchi, this ad for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society focuses on the issue of plastic pollution in the ocean. The image of a fish made of plastic waste sends a strong message about the impact of plastic pollution on marine life and encourages people to consider their own consumption habits.

#12 – You either see one or the other

Most Creative Ad - Fiat - 'You either see the letter or the dog. Don't text and drive.'
Texting and driving is still a major problem on the world’s roadways. Fiat, in collaboration with designer Leo Burnett, developed a campaign to try and curb texting and driving. Texting while driving diverts your focus, and this ad uses an ambiguous image to portray and bring attention to a real problem.

13. Fireworks!

Best Creative Ad - 'Happy New Year' print ad by Barilla
Sometimes the best minimalistic ads say more than others ever could. Barilla used an inventive way to ring in the new year with a minimalistic ad using their spaghetti product as fireworks. It is a great way to use an otherwise basic product in a new and interesting way.

#14 – Go on a run

Best Creative Print Ad - Asics Los Angeles Marathon ad
Ad Agency VITRO worked alongside Asics during their sponsorship of the Los Angeles Marathon in 2015. In the end, the collaboration produced a beautiful image of important landmarks across L.A., including Dodger Stadium, the Hollywood sign, and the Capitol Records building, with the city well represented in the advertisement for the marathon.

#15 – Even a superhero drives one

Best Creative Ad- BMW M3 The Flash print ad
Developed by Creative Director Marco Gioe, the ad for this BMW sees the DC Comics superhero The Flash behind the wheel to show consumers that this car is fast because obviously, The Flash knows a thing or two about speed.

#16 – Bottoms Up!

Clever Print Ads - Guinness - 'Enjoy responsibly. Phones down, please.'
In many restaurants these days, you’ll see more people on their phones than talking to the people they are with. Guinness has had enough of this disturbing trend by releasing an ad that takes those cell phones and stacks them to form an image of a pint of Guinness beer, reminding people that it is better to be social than isolated behind a phone screen.

#17 – Choose your adventure

Clever Ad - Print ad by Jeep - 'See Whatever You Want to See'
Created by Leo Burnett France, this ad campaign plays up the idea that with a Jeep, you can go just about anywhere and see what you want to see. Using images of animals that, when turned upside down, show another animal from the other side of the world. Other variations included an elephant and a swan as well as a doe and a sea lion.

#18 – Nature Doesn’t Need Tattoos

Clever Print Ad - The World Wildlife Fund - polar bears with graffiti
The World Wildlife Fund is not shy when it comes to the ads that they put out to get their message across. With this ad created by Chris Garbutt of Ogilvy & Mather Paris, it puts graffiti on the beautiful white fur of polar bears to get their message across.

#19 – Head to the Gym

Clever Ad - Gold's Gym 'Fat Fat Fit' print ad
Sometimes, playing on people’s insecurities can send a powerful message. With this ad from Gold’s Gym, it creatively uses a person’s body to show the type of changes that were made by going to their gym. Fat? Fit? For someone who might not be happy with how they look physically, this can be a really powerful ad.

#20 – Like sucking on a tailpipe

Clever Ad- 'Pollution Is Closer Than You Think' print ad by Friends of the Earth
Developed for use by roadside food carts, JWT Hong Kong created these cup lids to bring awareness to the air pollution issue. This ad helped to get customers thinking while being surrounded by the problem.

#21 – Pee with a purpose

Best Creative Ad - 'Peeing on this ad may change your life' print ad by Ikea
It’s not normally a good sign if someone wants to pee on your advertisement, but in the case of Ikea’s ad, they encourage women to do so. The ad doubles as a pregnancy test that, if positive, will offer a half-price coupon for a new baby crib. This creative ad was designed by the Akestam Holst agency in conjunction with material company Mercene Labs.

#22 – Here Kitty Kitty

Clever Ad - 'Feeding your cat's instincts' by Whiskas

With their ‘Big Cat, Small Cat campaign, Whiskas wanted to focus on a cat’s instincts. Developed by Abbot Mead Vickers BBDO with photography by George Logan, the combination of a housecat hunting down prey is a striking image and comes in different variations, including hunting elephants and zebras. There is even a variation where a male lion bonds with a housecat.

#23 – One Story. Two Points.

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Amazing Print Ad - 'One Story, Two Points' by Sharpie
Brazilian agency FCB developed this creative ad for Sharpie with the tagline: ‘One story. Two Points’ in order to promote the release of a new Sharpie pen with two points. The comic art style presents two separate points of view of a major news story. For years, Sharpie has produced amazing print ads, and this one is no different.

#24 – The Only Limit is Your Imagination

Best Imaginative Ad - Play-Doh - 'Is it possible to survive a head transplant?'
For their new brand campaign, Play-Doh turned to DDB advertising agency to help launch it. Creating Play-Doh designs by hand took an incredible amount of patience and time, but it was well worth the effort and sends a beautiful message: “The world of Play-Doh is the world as it should be. A dream world, born of the boundless imagination of children. A world in which everyone has a grip. That each can shape infinitely.”

#25 – There’s always more beneath the surface

Creative Ad of 2019 - St. Basil’s church - 'Discover the full story'
Created by ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, this wonderful illustration of St. Basil’s church in Moscow was intended to promote the available information at the Schusev State Museum of Architecture. Featuring the tagline ‘Discover the full story’, the imagery features photographs of famous Russian landmarks and their continuation below ground or water.

The 25 Best Print Ads of All Time Summary

Even though this is our list, it may not match your as our list may be a bit subjective, we hoped that we pointed out all of the creative ideas that advertising agencies use to promote a product. Maybe this gave you some inspiration and your ad will appear on our list next.

Do you have a favorite print ad that doesn’t appear on our list? Let us know in the comments below.

75 More Clever Advertisements

Below you can find even more brilliant creative, smart and clever advertising messages.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are a few factors that iconic print advertisements have in common?

Most of the iconic print ads out there either have a shock factor, a pop culture reference, or a stroke of ingenuity. For the most part, the advertising world sticks with minimalist and specific brand themes. So when a print ad stands out, they usually take the more adventurous route.

What are the forms of print media that are effective?

Surprisingly, most forms of print media like magazines, newspapers, and posters are still effective for a segment of the older audience. That said, digital media is for a huge portion of the target audience and market segment.

What are some brands that are well known for their print advertisements?

Some brands like Coke, Pepsi, Apple, KFC, and BMW are well known for their memorable print ads. While there are several more brands that deliver clever print ads, these do an excellent job with consistency.

What is the best software for creating iconic print media advertisements?

Some brands like Coke, Pepsi, Apple, KFC, and BMW are well known for their memorable print ads. While there are several more brands that deliver clever print ads, these do an excellent job with consistency.

What is the best software for creating iconic print media advertisements?

Although this largely depends on your budget and your creative process, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator work best.

Do print ads still help build brand awareness?

Definitely, among older audiences and a large segment of the population, print media is still an effective way to build brand awareness. That said, new brands without a digital presence are not as effective.


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