Throughout the years, I’ve received countless pieces of advice from people from all walks of life. I’ve been educated by average Joes, preached to by self proclaimed innovators, and absorbed bits of wisdom from a scattered group of individuals who fell somewhere in between. All that said, I’ve always found the best advice comes from accidental mystics.
My father once told me “You can be anything you want; if you want to be a shoemaker, be a shoemaker… just make sure you’re the best damn shoemaker that ever lived and you’ll be all right”. At the time I just laughed.
A close childhood friend once told me “If you want someone to like you, make sure you talk to them and more importantly make sure you talk to them—about them”. After hearing this, I looked at him quizzically and tried to understand why?
I once asked a former co-worker how she appeared to know everything about everything? Her response “I don’t, I just tell people I can do anything they ask me and then I just figure it out along the way.”
What do all these seemingly unrelated education bits share in common? They were all honest, genuine and most important, they were statements that came from the heart.
Although all these individuals have profoundly inspired me as a designer in some way, the most genius piece of creative advice I’ve ever received didn’t come from a person I know…It came from a group of people I’ve never met nor probably will ever meet. The culprit: FCB, the folks responsible for the awesome ad campaign you can watch below.
So what is this human element anyways?
The human element comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether it empowers you to make a change, causes you to tick like a time bomb, or makes you want to lock yourself in a room and have a good cry, if done correctly – the chances are the ad’s creators have successfully incorporated at least one of these key components.
1) The “human element” allows us to pause life and recalibrate our social compass.
Let’s face it, as we grow older, no matter how carefree and young at heart we are, as we age, we become hardened. While a little bit is absolutely necessary for day-to-day survival, the problem is sometimes we forget to stop and enjoy life’s simple joys.
A great example of this is demonstrated in this McDonald’s “Dia Del Niño” ad in which adult customers where made to feel like kids again…the result was awesome, check it out.
2) It delivers a simple message that is easily transmittable from culture to culture.
Living in America, we tend to take a lot of things for granted. We forget how in some areas of the world, simply stepping into a neighboring country can be a life-threatening experience. I know I am constantly beating the Coca-Cola drum, but their ads reach people the way few others do. This ad, from Leo Burnett, demonstrates that while ads can’t bring us world peace, they can certainly help individuals find common ground and understanding through visual communication.
3) It makes you think about the ad…long after it’s gone
A good ad that connects with its viewers leaves a lasting impression
Think of how many ads you see in one day? Need a little help? While the number is often debated, the consensus opinion is as consumers, we view between 1500-3000 ads per day. All the more reason an ad needs to stand out. A truly great ad needs to leave its viewers with a message to carry back to other consumers.
So what does all this mean for an advertiser? It means a hell of a lot of pressure, that’s what. But fear not, with the help of the “human element”, you can create an ad that is simply priceless.