I saw this ad today on Ads of the World, and I had some difficulty getting its message. Okay, they’re doing a barbecue to benefit youth, got it, but why is the sausage cooked half medium and half well done? Holy crap, I thought, are they actually calling out the racial mix of the group they’re benefiting?!
Then I finally noticed that the piece was titled “Sausage Pill,” a reference, I assume, to the group sponsoring the event. So the mystery was solved, but the ad’s inherent problem was not. For this idea to work, one must immediately understand that this is at once both a sausage and a pill. But in my case, there was no understanding, and the ad thus failed.
The sausage does not look enough like a pill. But this particular visual pun was a challenge in any case because it demanded combining something delicious and juicy with something quite dry and probably nasty tasting. The audience therefore had an even larger conceptual hurdle to overcome, since food and bitter pills don’t occupy the same place in our thinking.
But this brings to mind a larger problem with visual puns. I recall that by 1995, they were well established as the dominant approach to print advertising. And even back then, creative directors were already complaining that the visual pun was a tired formula. People would take an object, Photoshop it together with another object, and then log off for the day.
But good ads – really good ads – are a whole lot harder. As you work to build your portfolio, please bear in mind that there’s a world of difference between ideas that are simple and ideas that are merely easy.
Advertising Agency: UrsaClemenger, Australia
Executive Creative Director: Denis Mamo
Art Director / Copywriter: Denis Mamo
Art Director: Helen Shortis
Agency Producer: Peter Timms
Retoucher: Electric Art
Published: October 2012