The Design Process Of Creating A $40,000 Creative Newspaper Advertisement

The Design Process Of Creating A $40,000 Creative Newspaper Advertisement

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Chocolate - Picture courtesy of .....dotted.....

This semester at University I am studying ‘Design For Advertising’ and the first project we received was based around how to professionally design a creative newspaper ad. I am going to go through the process I used to create one along with some tips on the way.

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The Brief

Sweets2uIn short, we were to design a creative newspaper advertisement / campaign for the factitious chocolate company and the purpose of the campaign was to create awareness of the new and exciting chocolate delivery dot-com.

The sweets2u service is based on chocolates arriving the next day anywhere in the country, along with a personalised message printed on a personally selected decorative card.

We were asked to find an interesting way to advertise this service to the nation.

We were given no other information (not even a budget) and we had to find out what would be the best way to raise awareness of this new business so this meant we had to research the size, the number and where to place the advertisements.


Where to advertise?

Before we even began on trying to come up with an idea we had to try to figure out the best place to advertise in a newspaper and for the best price that would be within the budget of this dot-com company. We researched newspaper demographics, prices, sizes and distribution numbers and finally came down to choosing to advertise in the Weekend Australian newspaper.

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We chose this paper because it suited our target market of high socio-economic business people, mainly 25-60 year olds who would be more likely to send chocolate via the internet and had the money to do so.

What size to advertise?

WhereAfter knowing what paper to advertise in, we had to choose the size and where to advertise in the paper and also compare prices with other newspapers. We did this by looking at newspaper advertising rate charts and by making calls to the advertising departments which proved to be a lot easier than working it out ourselves from the website rate chart. We had to take into considerations things such as colour loading (30% more to use colour) and what side of the paper to put the ad on which some papers charged more for.

We finally chose to advertise on page 3, on the bottom right side of the paper which you can see in the diagram to the right. The actual size was 20cm by 10 columns which is 20cm X 37.6cm in this particular paper. The cost for this would be AUD$40,368 inc GST for a full colour ad and that would be distributed to 305,000+ people.

What is the Unique Selling Point (USP)?

After we had decided on what paper and size to use, we could now begin creating an ad. The easiest way to sell a product is to find a unique selling point and after a bit of brainstorming and discussion we came down to these USPs for; They delivered chocolate conveniently via the use of the internet and they offered personalised messages, something that you don’t get when you buy chocolate any other way. These were the USPs we focused on.


After choosing the USP’s I brainstormed ideas of which you can see one of my very messy mind maps below. I generally go pretty crazy with these things and jot down as many words that come to mind within a space of about 5 minutes – this is just a method that works with me. There are many other methods on how to be creative.

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Mind Map

After I brainstormed, I did many rough (emphasise on the rough) sketches and came up with about 70 different ideas. Below you can see a few based around the same ‘Chocolate Delivered’ theme.


I didn’t think the ‘chocolate being delivered’ theme was working too well as the ideas were too basic so I then started thinking about ideas on the USP of the service being personalised. I came up with quite a few ideas however the one idea that I ended up using actually came to me while I was trying to get to sleep… is anyone else like that?


After I had the idea firmly envisioned in my head I finally started on the execution of the ad. Below you can see my original rough (again, rough being emphasised) sketch of the proposed ad. It depicts a pair of briefs, chocolate and socks hanging on a clothes line with the tag line “Very Personal”.

Rough Layout

The body copy underneath will read;

Choosing a present is never easy but don’t resort to socks or undies this time, instead let us do the work for you.

We will deliver chocolate anywhere in Australia overnight guaranteed…

all you need to do is log onto and write a personalised message to go with it! You don’t even have to leave your house.

I then went down to the shops bought some chocolate (mmm) came back, grabbed my camera, some of my undies (sorry you had to see them) and socks and went outside, pegged up the items on the clothes line and shot my scene. I experimented with different shots, combinations and lighting and after about 50 shots came back and reviewed them. You can see 4 variations below and the chosen image below it.


Original Shot

After choosing the shot above, I clipped out the background to simplify the scene.


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I then added a nice blue cloudy background to set the scene a bit more.


I then played around with the text, body copy and positioning logo until I was happy. Below you can see the final design – you will have to click on it to be able to read the body copy. The fonts I used were Franklin Gothic Demi for the body copy and Salamander for the heading. (If you have read the post 30 fonts graphic designers must know and own you would know that the font Franklin Gothic is great for newspapers!)

Final Design

And upon completing the advertisement I got to eat the chocolate! It was a sweet reward.

Mistakes To Avoid When Designing For Newspapers

Here are some mistakes to avoid when designing for newspapers along with some other tips.

Too much clutter Don’t forget the importance of white space. If you can’t fit in all the information you had hoped to, consider going with a larger sized ad, or editing down your information to a more manageable amount or get creative… how can you say your whole message in just a few words or a picture?

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Unclear message Make sure you know what you are trying to get your reader to do before you start to design your ad. Keep this objective in mind at all times and review your ad when you are done to make sure this has been accomplished.

Errors Even though it may seem easy to proofread such a small set of type, sometimes errors show up and are glossed over no matter how many times you read it. To be safe, have someone else review your ad for you also… this goes with almost all graphic design work. This is actually one of the top 15 mistakes designers make.

Lack of contact information This common error is particularly frustrating for readers. You may have convinced your reader to contact you or purchase your products, but if they can’t easily find contact information, they will probably not bother to look much further. Always have a call to action.

AIDA – Try to remember this acronym… AIDA. Attention, Information, Desire, Action. Get the consumers attention, give them the information and desire for your product, then give them a call to action.

One More Tip – Another thing I noticed while researching effective newspaper ads was that any ad that had a solid block of colour as its background (with a lot of white space) really grabbed your attention straight away… you couldn’t turn the page without looking at it. This was one of the reasons I simplified my advertisement by removing the white background and adding the blue sky.

On another note, if you like creative advertising, you must check out out this list of 192 creative advertisements.

Hope you enjoyed reading through my design process and as always, constructive criticism is welcome, as well as any comments or questions. How was my copy writing? Could I improve on it?

74 thoughts on “The Design Process Of Creating A $40,000 Creative Newspaper Advertisement”

  1. Nice work! I really didn’t know where you were going to go with this one, but in the end it really works. It would definitely grab attention in a newspaper.
    I like the handwriting, very nice touch.

    Also, like what you’ve done with your sidebar headers. They grab a bit of attention, but not as overwhelming as all pink.

    kristarellas last blog post..Shout outs

  2. @ Jacob and Doug:
    You get ideas where you feel comfortable, that is why. Somewhere I heard that you often have epiphanys in the bed or under the shower because it is warm and/or watery, like in the womb. They also said that therefore you should always have a notebook handy 😉

  3. Mali,
    You would like this cartoon then…
    Thank you for your compliments also.

    A new spin eh? Thanks regarding the clip… the new refine edge function in CS3 is really great! Yeah, I had to get outta bed to write it down, was so annoying! I am leaving a pen and paper closer to my bed next time.

    Hehe, yeah I left the end advertisement as a surprise 🙂 It really does grab attention especially at the size it is printed at… I did a full scale print out (20×37.6cm) and it was quite massive… not something you can pass over easily.

    The sidebar headers I changed the same day I had the pink sidebars… I am glad I did!

    Me too, it is always interesting, except in this case… I got it while trying to fall asleep!

    Interesting theory… and next time I will have the notebook closer, I had to get out of bed last time.

  4. I, like kristarella, couldn’t really initially see where you were going with the washing line idea until I read the copy text. I suppose that’s why it’s so clever, as it engages the reader to look closer into the ad.

    Additionally, I think the pizza box idea would have worked too. I can imagine a photo of it opened, with silver foil hanging over the edges exposing the chocolate. Great post 🙂

  5. Great concept and wording. If it wasn’t for the first sentence, I would think using dirty underwear/socks witih chocolate.. to sell chocolate would be a bad a idea. It still seems strange at first glance. I don’t know if this is an American thing, but the stereotype of a chocolate candy bar would be one that looks like hershey’s, I’ve never seen one that looks like the one in your ad.. Maybe it’s recognizable in Australia.

    Oddly, I wrote about newspaper ads just last night on my blog! Your tips on designing for newspaper are great and things I hadn’t thought about.

    Stephen Emlunds last blog post..Great Newspaper Ads pt. 2

  6. Thank you for this, I have started printing your blog for reading and inspiration especially when my clients want me to do things that are against my better judgment.

  7. I loved your post… I don’t work in advertising or anything like that, but I love reading your tips, and I am sure, one day I will be good at this…
    Underware… I can’t belive it… that’s the sparkle of yours, your humor…
    Best regards

  8. Fantastic article. I really enjoy reading step-by-step accounts of how other designers work — I learn by example! Posts like these are a great help to me in my last year of high-school, as they help me view problems from a new perspective.

  9. Love the ad, great idea and execution.

    With regards to the ideas while falling asleep thing, I’m absolutely the same. Always keep a pen and paper next to my bed and the number of times that I have impromptu late night brainstorming sessions that keep me up well into the morning is staggering.

    Keep it up =)


    P.S. Where you’ve written ‘factitious’, I can only assume you mean fictitious?

  10. LOVED the ad and the whole breakdown of the process Jacob! On my to do list at work making newspaper ads is my least favorite because they always come with last minute requests and the newspapers in my country are cluttered like you have never seen them.

    Also, I do not get the time nor the space to think of awesome concepts like this one.
    Even so I very much enjoyed your article! Will keep it bookmarked because you pinpoint a lot of important aspects/steps…

    Keep up inspiring and refreshing our minds!

  11. Excellent post. I wish I had the time where I work now! to think deeper and use the process I learned at University, but just some people i.e. my boss wants it done NOW! which doesn’t give much time to arrive at a concept for his advertisements. I like what you have done and the simplicity from the thinking and development before hand to give you this ad. Great stuff Jacob

    Malis last blog post..Denise Richards Photoshop Fantasy Face.

  12. Jacob, you’ve put a new spin on personal design services, lol. What an awesome article! I loved reading about your whole process. And the end result is superb (excellent clip job, by the way).

    “I came up with quite a few ideas however the one idea that I ended up using actually came to me while I was trying to get to sleep: is anyone else like that?”

    I laughed out loud when I read this. My best ideas always seem to come just when I’m about to fall asleep or right when I’m waking up.

    Doug C.s last blog post..Twitter Me This, Twitter Me That…

  13. Andrew,
    Yeah, we were taught to grab attention first and then draw people into the body copy… if it doesn’t first grab attention, it is not going to be read.

    It would be interesting to see the pizza box idea completed as well.

    Yeah it would be but the visual really does grab ones interest and like Kristarella mentioned, the Cadbury chocolate bar is the most recognisable here in Australia. Like Tracey also suggested indirectly, a box of chocolates could have worked as well.

    Alexander, Andrew, Aleks,
    Glad to be of service 🙂

    Next time I am going to keep the pad and pen even closer… so I don’t have to get out of bed. Thanks for the typo correction, I will fix that.

    Maybe however I think that it would complicate things even further. I keep the last line short to round it off.

    Another clever line. Thanks.

    Glad you liked it, and I can imagine that newspaper ads would be last on your list, they are not overly exciting until you get the time (and budget) to work on a creative one that isn’t only going to take up a tiny square of space.

    Thanks for clarifying the chocolate, you are correct 🙂

    Yes, I did find that a solid background did grab your attention… regarding the chocolate I decided to use the most recognisable chocolate icon for the ad rather than a chocolate box of sorts due to the fact that is hard to create a recognisable chocolate box without a brand on it but I do agree that it would be more appropriate for the target as I would imagine the company would send boxes of chocolate rather than bars as photographed.

  14. Very interesting article. I always love to read how one finds their ideas.

    The handwritten font makes it even that more personal, very nice.

  15. Actually, they say our true creativity lies buried in the subconscious, so it’s only natural that we would have these great bursts of inspiration upon waking or falling asleep. When the mind is clear, uncluttered by the garbage of the day, that is when the doorway between the conscious and subconscious swings wide for just a few fragile seconds.

    Yep, grab your notepad….

    Doug C.s last blog post..Twitter Me This, Twitter Me That…

  16. Great stuff. I’d have only one suggestion for the last line of the text, maybe something like “You don’t even have to leave your house (just as well if your undies are drying)” –to bring it to a rounded conclusion.

  17. Or how about, “Don’t hang your relationships out to dry…”


    Doug C.s last blog post..Twitter Me This, Twitter Me That…

  18. Great concept, and you’re right to choose the blue sky background – an effective visual attention-grabber for a newspaper or magazine advertisement.

    The chocolate is definitely recognisable as good old Cadbury. Still, I can’t help wondering if your target demographic (high socio-economic business people) would choose to send Cadbury as a gift or something a bit fancier?

    Tracey Gradys last blog post..Irresistible Websites: Part One

  19. Very true, Like the cogs moving for eyes. Always thinking 😀

    Take care


    Malis last blog post..Denise Richards Photoshop Fantasy Face.

  20. ArabCrunch,

    Thanks for your kind words and yes still in uni! So how did you find this post?

    Well I guess you would have read the body copy if it got your attention 🙂 I think it would get attention anywhere irrespective of the nation 🙂

  21. In regards to white space –

    personally I’d like to see plenty of it between a mans undergarments and any confections I might be inclined to devour – but perhaps that’s just me.

    heh – nice post, thanks for sharing!!

  22. Ok, I came up with another one …

    “Would you hang your girlfriend out with your dirty shorts? Of course not. Then give that relationship a fresh start with a gift from!”

    Doug C.s last blog post..The Death of Conversation

  23. man u r sure ur still in uni, i know people who have many years of experience but can not think the way you did.

    your writing skills are excellent, if someone starts reading he can not stop tell the end.

    i just came to see who is who in this website, but i stayed to read the whole post.

    The ad design does get the newspaper reader attention, though i did not like the under ware being displayed, with chocolate.
    that is just personal opinion, what is the perception in Australia about this?.

    no wonder you have many comments, even if i did not like the concept of underware, but u r a pro man. 🙂

  24. First: Thanks for the post 🙂
    Second: I like that You share Your very personal and realistic experience with us. That makes Your design blog one of few very unique.
    Third: a tip – though I am not sure for You in Australia, but probably it will work… DON’T never, ever put food together with underpants nor socks nor other underwear. Most people will think about bathroom than refrigerator 😉
    Four: very nice design in the ad 🙂

  25. You know, I love everything about this… but I couldn’t help but feel like if you had a moderately lacy pair of girls’ panties instead of boxers, it might’ve been different. Then again, that depends wholly on where you are and what’s acceptable in print.

    LOL @ “a pair of my undies… sorry you had to see them” aside from the typical joke that I wanted to make (I’m a bit fresh at the mouth,) I’ll just say hey.. at least they’re clean. LOL!

    Erikas last blog post..Miami Web Design

  26. I’m surprised at the aversion to the undies… Obviously in Oz we’re a little less private about our particulars. Something to do with our love for the Hills Hoist maybe?

  27. Erika,
    I actually did try out the shot with a lacy pair of female underwear however it looked to erotic for a newspaper ad and kind of got more attention than the chocolate but thank you for the suggestion.

    Well I did learn another thing today about how such small differences make such a big impact in different countries. I would never have even considered using a Hershey’s bar… I don’t even know what a Hershey’s bar is!

    It was a group project in some respect… we had a group of 4 and we had to come up with a suitable logo together and we also had to choose what size / paper / how many ads we were going to run and the budget together. The creative part was all done indiviually so we all had different results.

    The professor did talk about some considerations for printing in newspapers however I found more information online.

    Mojito & Kristarella
    As Kristarella mentioned, I think Aussies are a bit less private in regards to this matter, not sure why? Maybe cause we always have our clothes off due to the heat (not fully off) 😛 And possibly because we did invent the Hills Hoist clothes line!


  28. @Doug, Amen to that!

    @LaurenMarie, Fosters is definitely advertised differently all around the world than it is here… in fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Foster’s ad here. We actually don’t even drink it. The more common and cheap Aussie beers include VB and XXXX Gold (or something like that, I’ve seen ads for XXXX, but never drunk it), the better Aussie beers are Cascade and James Squire and then there’s foreign beers. I find it weird that Fosters is the “Australian beer” overseas. It’s kind of like if they used the “Yoplait, it’s French for ‘Yum'” ad in France.

    @ArabCrunch, the enzymes in your washing powder/liquid are probably as effective at cleaning as the ones in your dishwashing liquid. Is it unhygienic to mix your plates with your food?

  29. @Kristarella, all these ad slogans from around the world are interesting! That’s not Yoplait’s slogan in the US (at least not that I’ve seen). A little while a go it was “C’est si bon… It is… so good.” Now I guess it’s just “It is so good.”

    Hey! We should collect all the companies and their slogans from around the world! It’d be interesting to see how they translate into other languages too.

    @Jacob, no Hershey’s??!

    LaurenMarie – Creative Curios last blog post..Ancient Arts Revived: Modern Origami and Other Paper Crafts

  30. Yeah, in America, you’d definitely have to use a Hershey’s bar. Our chocolate bars usually don’t come that big! I’m totally being reminded of the Foster’s commercials and ads… I bet they weren’t the same in Australia though. They made fun of how small things in the US are compared to Australia and the tagline was “Fosters. Australian for beer.” Scroll down in that link to see one of the ads.

    Anyway! So was this a group project? Did the professor talk about unique considerations for printing in newspapers? I know that the amount of ink is a big consideration and colors just don’t come out as richly.

    LaurenMarie – Creative Curios last blog post..Ancient Arts Revived: Modern Origami and Other Paper Crafts

  31. ArabCrunch,
    Haha yeah, I wouldn’t like to see my chocolate going anywhere near someone elses underwear either but common sense prevails in this case.

    Yeah I know, after travelling around Europe the past couple of months I have come to realise that Fosters is known to be Australia’s beer… funny, because, like you said, we do not even drink it here!

    It is quite interesting how different slogans are different around the world. It would be an article that would take a lot of research… but a good article none the less.

    And I have heard of Hershey’s, they tried to introduce Hershey’s kisses here but it never prevailed… probably why not many have heard of Hershey’s here in Australia. I do remember having a peanut butter Hershey’s bar when I was in the US though – you had everything peanut butter flavour over there!

  32. @kristarella:

    Yeah…but then again the US has lots of lots of everything… 🙂

    Pulling it back to the topic though…….what if you were given the task to come up with a breakthrough (ad) concept for a new brand of peanut butter in the US…..

    Oh buzz…with all this talk about choc and peanut butter you all got me craving some…

    I am off to the supermarket to score some!!! 🙂

  33. I would much rather see a clean pair of undies hanging on a line with a bar of chocolate than some scantily clad babe selling male enhancement products.

    Doug C.s last blog post..My 21 Favorite Photoshop Tips

  34. @Jacob Cass i founded from Twitter , u a friend of a new follower to me 🙂

    yes i read everything great job, and you are really a good writer.

    The ad gets people attention, but do not u think underwear and Food (chocolate) put to gather is not hygiene.
    it gets the attention but give a bad impression.

    ArabCrunchs last blog post..Google Opening an Office in Jordan, Do not Miss this Event: “Culture of Google Life Inside, and How to Apply?”

  35. It’s not all plain sailing designing adverts for newspapers. With this project you’ve had the advantage of not having to send any proofs out to clients and await any possible changes. I’ve had many a concept that I loved destroyed by client’s amends, demanding every product they sell be on the advert etc.

    Your tips for designing newspaper ads are quite handy – the white space trick is an old design tip that you see used a lot in billboard designs.

  36. Abbas,
    That is also true. The amount of poorly designed ads that are in newspapers is quite shocking… the weird thing is that our local papers are better designed than the big ones.

  37. I like the idea, but the whole chocolate bar next to underwear kind of turns me away from their product.

    I think you could have done something great with the ‘Chocolate Delivered…fast’, or the ‘Got Chocolate?’ sketches.

  38. Something very different…I think it works great…it got my attention…& if it gets your attention…99.9% of the time it works, cos thats what adverts are intended for…to get the consumers attention!

  39. Photoshop at its best. Also fits into the concept of theme and variation. Put something like the chocolate bar and the clothes together. By the way chocolate is impossible to remove from clothes.

  40. Very interesting thought process and successful conclusion. I enjoy the negative image-shadows of the laundry. The shadow of the briefs is perplexing.

  41. Hello All!

    Jacob, I love everything you do and as a student/new designer, this site is soo very helpful, thank you. Quick question. I’ve been designing newspaper ads for about 9 months now and at the beginning it took me about 6 hours or so to come up with the concept and then execute the ad. Now, I’m down to about 2-3 hours or so and comfortable with the process. I may make revisions, but at this point, I know the expectations of the clients we work with and there’s usually very little, if any revisions. I was just wandering how long it should take because I’m always asked to do everything “quick and dirty, ” but I have such a hard time producing crap on purpose. Thoughts on how long a small newspaper ad should take? I would have to say that my designs are nothing out of this world, but they are better than most, if not all the ads in the local papers (which isn’t hard to do)

    • It depends on the circumstances and budget, most of the time the “you get what you pay for” phrase is true. Also other considerations such as deadlines, the amount you have to do and so fourth are all things you should consider. The advert above took about half a day to do from memory.

  42. hey, what tools do you use to do your photo editing. Like the process of clipping out the background….i have my 1st newspaper ad to design and i would love to work with you….can we chat on msn or the likes??

  43. Photoshop at its best. Also fits into the concept of theme and variation. Put something like the chocolate bar and the clothes together. By the way chocolate is impossible to remove from clothes.

  44. Hello All!

    Jacob, I love everything you do and as a student/new designer, this site is soo very helpful, thank you. Quick question. I’ve been designing newspaper ads for about 9 months now and at the beginning it took me about 6 hours or so to come up with the concept and then execute the ad. Now, I’m down to about 2-3 hours or so and comfortable with the process. I may make revisions, but at this point, I know the expectations of the clients we work with and there’s usually very little, if any revisions. I was just wandering how long it should take because I’m always asked to do everything “quick and dirty, ” but I have such a hard time producing crap on purpose. Thoughts on how long a small newspaper ad should take? I would have to say that my designs are nothing out of this world, but they are better than most, if not all the ads in the local papers (which isn’t hard to do)

  45. I really appreciate your write-up on this. I have been fumbling through the process of identifying print advertising possibilities. I have now started to actually design the ads and found your section on Mistakes to Avoid very timely and valuable. Great write-up!

  46. Appreciate the layout from the mere thought(s) process to final—COMPLETED—project! You have laid out your design process in the easiest of terms-Thank you!
    Your creativity shines in simple yet effective creation! You are credible in layout as well as in the successful end result. Awesome!

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