The Anatomy of an Advertisement

In a £19m research study conducted by Ipsos MediaCT and MGE Data in Feb 2013, it was revealed that the average Londoner will make eye contact with 27 roadside posters and 14 bus ads per day, and every time London commuters make a tube journey they will encounter an average of 74 ads.  While people in rural areas avoid being exposed to as many banners and tube posters, city-dwellers skew towards the higher range of ad exposure. With the innovation of smart phones and a whole host of other gadgets, it is becoming easier and easier for advertisers to reach their target audiences with stunning accuracy. 

In the midst of all this advertising noise, some people would think that the general masses are becoming more immune to ads and product placement. However, researchers have continually shown that children as young as 5 begin to retain information they see in advertisements and allow it to affect their decision making. As marketers, we understand that advertisements have become ingrained into everyday life, and they certainly are not leaving anytime soon.

In order to create an effective advertisement, it only makes sense to look a little deeper into what makes them work. Here are the basic tenants that comprise any ad.

The Tease


Otherwise known as the headline, this line of text is the largest in the ad and sets the tone of the messaging. From “Just Do It” to “Got Milk?”, the best advertising teases often become embedded in to popular culture and stick around for much longer than the actual ad campaigns. Teases may or may not have anything to do with the actual product or service being offered, but instead they are designed to somehow intrigue you as a viewer.

The Eye-Candy


Traditionally, imagery in advertisements followed the “Say dog, see dog” adage, Ads for shoe polish would feature a picture of wingtips while Coca-Cola promos showed a glass full of bubbly liquid. Today, however, rule-bending advertisers will put a seemingly innocuous headline with a controversial image to maximise shock value. Possibly best known for this tactic if the international clothing maverick United Colors of Benetton, whose shocking ads in the 80s and 90s pushed boundaries in race and sexuality

The Tagline


After dragging your eye away from the main imagery and text, you’ll notice a second line of text, essentially a subhead in the ad. This text’s purpose is to really bring home the message of the ad, that consumers will have stuck in their minds the next time they are in the consumer decision making process. Quite frequently, the tagline is where advertisers insert a “call to action”, a simple, fool-proof line that tells viewers what they are supposed to do with this new information. “Call us today” or “Make your next car a Ford” are all forms of a call to action.

The Details


If you’ve taken in the initial ad text and are still looking at the advertisement (assuming you haven’t already passed the billboard on a highway or turned the page in your magazine) you’ll see an otherwise unassuming paragraph sitting somewhere towards the bottom of the image. This is usually where advertisers dump all of the information about themselves and the product that they hope viewers will take the time to read, but assume they won’t. If the headline and image have done their job, a viewer has already formed an opinion about the product or service long before they wade through minute details.

The Sponsor


Tucked away somewhere on the ad you are almost guaranteed to find the advertiser’s logo. Even ads that are engaging and controversial and well-executed don’t drive brand awareness if there is no brand indicated on the page. When consumers imagine Michael Jordan, advertisers want to ensure they imagine him wearing Nikes and Hanes, not Adidas and Fruit of the Loom. Adding a logo or some kind of corporate branding to the ad helps ensure that, at least subliminally, consumers will recall the company associated with a given image or catch-phrase.

Choosing the Right Vinyl

Choosing the right materials is always important when it comes to printed marketing. By selecting the best possible materials for the job, you can be sure on quality, enhance productivity and minimise wastage. There are hundreds of different applications for vinyl due to the physical nature of this versatile plastic. Vinyl can be flexible, weather or heat resistant, transparent, translucent or opaque, impact resistant, matt, gloss or textured, front or back lit, thick or thin, and any colour of the rainbow. As well as these options, there are also different grades and levels of vinyl to choose from, and it can be hard to distinguish which vinyl is best for your type of application. We’ve put together this informational guide to help you choose the right material for the job and get the flawless finish you require.

The Basics

At face value, there is little to distinguish between the three types of vinyl available today: cast, polymeric calendered and monomeric calendered. However, the difference between them is obvious after they have been applied to a vehicle for any length of time. The vinyl that looks as good as the day it was applied is manufactured using a process known as casting and is described as cast vinyl.


Cast vinyl is a premium grade vinyl that starts life as a liquid, which is them allowed to spread out to an extremely thin layer. Cast vinyls have no memory and are stable, so shrinkage is barely perceptible. Because cast vinyls are thinner and softer, they are easier to cut, weed and apply. Cast films conform over substrate irregularities such as rivets and textures, making them the preferred option for the most extreme exterior applications – especially vehicle wraps. Cast films are also often used for interior or less challenging applications when special or PANTONE® colours are required. Cast has an enduring quality and a long life.

  • Long term solution
  • Highly conformable
  • More dimensionally stable and resistant to shrinkage
  • Highly resistant to fading
  • Highly resistant to chemicals


Calendered vinyl starts life as a lump of plastic that is then flattened by being passed through two pressure rollers. Though not as high quality as cast films in demanding applications, film produced by this process can nevertheless be adequate in less demanding conditions. Calendered films come in two types: polymeric and monomeric.

• Polymeric calendered vinyl

Polymeric calendered vinyl has added polymers to reduce shrinkage. However, although they have developed significantly over the years, they still fall short of the stability and durability of cast films. Polymeric films fare much better in exterior applications than monomeric films but are not suitable for application over surface irregularities such as rivets and corrugations. For less demanding exterior work, polymeric films offer a workable alternative to cast.

• Monomeric calendered vinyl

The least expensive vinyl film is monomeric calendered. These films are not suitable for demanding exterior applications such as vehicle liveries or fascia signs. The face film of monomeric film is not stabilised so it will almost certainly shrink to reveal the adhesive beneath. Dirt will adhere to this revealed adhesive and will be clearly visible as a sticky, black outline around the lettering and other elements. The sticky black outline is usually only the start of more severe degradation to come. Eventually, the vinyl face film will begin to curl up and flake off like peeling paint. Monomeric films, therefore, are best suited to short-term exterior applications and interior work.

Other films

In addition to the three basic types of vinyl film described above, the following films are also available.

  • Polyester films usually have a very high gloss. They do not stretch so are suitable only for application to flat surfaces.
  • PVF films are chemically inert to the solvents found in stains and paint and are typically used as a protective measure where graffiti is likely.
  • Scrimmed PVC films are used for banners and stretched sign faces because of their enhanced strength. The scrim can be black to prevent “show-through” on double-sided banners.
  • Brittle cast films, as the name suggests, are brittle in make up and very difficult to remove. This makes them ideal for security labelling.
  • Hybrid films are typically a combination or construction of two or more materials. Introducing the characteristics of two material types makes it possible, for example, to print on a material with an otherwise non-receptive print surface.