One of the best ways to come up with new creative advertising is to take a walk down memory lane. Memorable design work never goes out of style. Taking a good look at some of these great pieces of art can put new ideas into the mind of a designer – opening up their creativity to new takes on the classics. Here are a few of my personal all time favorites – and what I feel are the key successful tips that can be drawn from them.

  1. West Side Story movie poster

    Way before the iPod commercials with dancing silhouettes, there was this beautiful movie poster. The silhouettes in white stand out bold yet artistic on a deep red background while the black of the title in a large grungy font are constructed to appear strong, like a building in the city – the setting for the movie.
    1961 :: Saul Bass, designer
    Read more about Saul Bass’s legacy at

    TIP: You don’t need 4-color to make a piece stand out. Simply using 2 colors effectively can create an eye-catching design.

  2. Bud Light Real American Heroes Ads

    Listen to one of the ads!

    One-minute radio spots don’t get much better than this. The quick humor in these commercials had you turning up the radio. The solemn voice with the hair band in the background had the audience hanging on every word, avoiding laughing so that we could hear the rest of the ad. Very rarely does a radio spot accomplish that – and help its product stay in the audience’s mind long after the radio spot is finished.
    Starting in 1998 :: DDB Chicago
    The ads changed names to Real Men of Genius in 2001 but the approach stayed the same. Listen to the majority of these ads at this link:

    Playing with contrast can make a piece unforgettable. Imagine these ads without the play of the narrator’s serious voice or the rock band lyrics in the background. The ad doesn’t work. Only through the contrast of the two voices does the ad make us laugh and listen at the same time.

  3. Volkswagen Bug ad campaign

    The original Volkswagen Bug advertising campaign is a favorite of designers everywhere. The designs were simple – image and text – but were catchy and memorable. I can imagine if I had been around when the ads were originally published; they would have been cut out and displayed on my walls – as great pieces of art should be.
    1960 :: Doyle Dane Bernbach
    For more on the history of the Volkswagon campaigns visit this link:

    Simplicity. An ad doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. Sometimes the use of white space and a basic message make a loud impression.

  4. Absolut Vodka Ad Campaign

    Place a picture of your product smack in the center of the page and dress it up with accessories and a clever short tag line. Seems easy enough. But the designs of the Absolut Vodka ads of the 80’s and 90’s made the idea into a work of art. I will bet an entire generation of young designers scoured the pages of magazines looking for the newest ads each month. I know I did.
    Starting in 1980 :: TBWA ad agency
    There are dozens of Absolut ads to view – check out this gallery:

    TIP: Constant repetition can lead to memorable moments. The ads didn’t need to change drastically each month. They simply needed to keep relaying the same overall message of the beauty of the bottle and the name of the product. Simple adaption’s made the ads perfect and clever.

  5. To Kill A Mocking Bird movie Title sequence

    Click to View the Title Sequence

    Those close to me know that this movie and book top my list of favorites – and have been since I was very young. But what most don’t know is that the title sequence was one of my first big design inspirations. Again, another piece of art simplicity – but this time in motion. The title lines move onto the page with grace and ease as the child’s view of the little items move slightly. And I can’t forget the sound: the mix of music and child sound effects pull the entire thing together. I always rewind to the sequence and watch multiple times before beginning to watch this movie treasure.
    1962 :: Stephen Frankfurt
    This is a great read on the development and thought that went into this classic:

  6. TIP: Changing a perspective can be powerful. The entire title is in the view of a child’s eye – although the audience is typically much older. This sets you up for the entire movie as well as introduces a new way of looking at basic objects.