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Advertisements Under Constraints

Updated on July 17, 2012

Task for you

Let me start by asking you a simple question. Can you write a mathematical equation to get the result on the RHS as number 256? Of course, the problem is pretty simple. You could either say 128x2=256 or 260-4=256 or you could come up with a zillion other ways to reach to 256. But, what happens when I ask you to reach 256 on the RHS with just 4 2’s on the LHS. That is when you need to give a little bit of thought and concentrate to reach the answer. A possible answer to the question is 2 multiplied by 2, raised to power, 2 multiplied by 2. So, what did I just do to make the same answer a bit tougher? I put a constraint on you, that you can use only 4 2’s.

Advertisements under constraints

If I were to randomly ask a dozen people what they love about advertisements, the typical answers that I’ll get are as follows. Advertisements are glamorous, humorous, informative and creative. All of the above is definitely true, but, what is a very less known fact is the amount of struggle that goes behind getting the perfect advertisements on air. Based on my learning from a recent session that I attended, I would like to share the creative magic which was created in situations where the constraints were high.

Where did the constraints come from?

What typically happens is that the client/company through several rounds of iterations lands up on a message, which they would like to communicate to their audience. This is something which is aligned to the goals of the company. The step following this is typically a one pager brief that is handed out to the advertising agency and asked to revert back. Here comes the villain. Unlike the rosy glamorous picture that we all think lies in the world of advertising, there are some serious issues facing this creative world. The company might not have all the money to spend on ads, hence there will be a cost constraint communicated to the agency. The company might have budget to go on air only a couple of times. They thus would be looking at maximum impact in this one shot. Managers might have a sword of time hanging around their neck, thus the creative guys would be asked to deliver the goods in that brief period. At times, the laws of the land, flexibility of the message and the openness of the audience can be a constraint too.

The ads

Following is a list of such ads which were created under a lot of constraints which turned out to be truly magical. As there is a limit on the YouTube links I can embed here, I have put the print-screen photographs of the ads which can be searched on YouTube on a separate tab. I highly recommend that you do it. It is worth it.

1)Nissan QashaQui

The key constraint here was letting the audience have the entire view of the supremely designed model in barely 30-45secs and without sounding patronizing. The other constraint was budget. Basically, the creative guys had to say everything in very little time. The output from the creative team was phenomenal. They created an ad where a guy skateboards on the new Nissan Qashaqui for 30secs. In those 30secs the audience gets the view of the car from all angles and gets the message clearly that the new Nissan is compact, stylish and agile.

2)Amora Ketchup

This range of ads is fantastic as, the constraint is the one most often faced in firms, the budget. The budget was extremely less, but the ad had to be worth a second look. The agency did such a phenomenal job that the award winning ad has been talked about in several important events and received a number of views. The ad as you can see does not have much frills to it, but, communicates the point clearly that even a little bit of Amora ketchup is enough.

3)Signature ad amnesty international

This ad defines the meaning of creativity. A simple concept that your signature is powerful had to be communicated with minimum spends. The agency has done just that. The ad, in the form of an exciting story shows you the power of your signature, exaggerating it to the level that signatures can save your life as well.

4)Bad hair day, the Bill please (hands are sensitive)

The constraint that the agency faced here was that the client had asked for an ad which communicated that our hands our sensitive in way which shows only hands. Creative brilliance came to play again with this constraint, where through a series of print advertisements they have created a world of hands where hands are indeed sensitive ‘people’.

5) French AIDS awareness ad

Condom commercials are always a tough nut to crack which if cracked offer phenomenal rewards. A major constraint in this ad was the strict arm of the censor board. If in its entirety the commercial was shown the censor board would not pass it. Plus, using real people can create controversies and moral/cultural debates. The agency came up with this great campaign for AIDS awareness which was a huge success in France.

6) Surrogate advertisements

Products such as Alcohol, cigarettes play in an industry of heavy constraints. They cannot advertise publicly in many markets. As a result the effort required behind them is also immense. The post on Surrogate, talks a bit more on the subject.

Key learning

  • Trust the Power of ideas: Even the smallest of ideas, if executed to perfection can produced phenomenal results. The effort of creative genius’s can be appreciated even more, when we see that through misplaced advertisements, a small error can totally goof it up.
  • Incubation of Ideas: Iterations are important. Constraints can be back- breaking. But, if the small ideas are cultivated, and worked upon a number of times, they have the potential to turn into a big idea. The ideas need correct incubation to show results.
  • One word answer: Aim to reach to a point where you can work around one word or a sentence. This level of minimization of a problem helps one deliver goods even when there are huge constraints.


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    • p10kabhijita profile imageAUTHOR

      Abhijit Aswath 

      6 years ago from India

      :) Thanks a lot. I am glad you liked it.

    • profile image

      Dr. Divya 

      6 years ago

      A very interesting read Abhijit.. Congratulations!

    • p10kabhijita profile imageAUTHOR

      Abhijit Aswath 

      6 years ago from India

      Thank you very much mollymeadows. Advertisements are a wonderful marriage of creativity and hard work :)

    • mollymeadows profile image

      Mary Strain 

      6 years ago from The Shire

      Congratulations! And this was an interesting read. Commercials can be a kind of art form. :-)

    • p10kabhijita profile imageAUTHOR

      Abhijit Aswath 

      6 years ago from India

      Thank you for your kind comment and appreciation. Feels great to get the Hubnuggets nomination:) If you find this hub interesting please spread the word :) :)

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      I enjoyed reading your hub as I love creativity! :) Advertisements can be tricky.

      Ripplemaker News Flash:

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. To read and vote for the Hubnuggets, this way


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