Graphic Design: It sure looks cool, but will it sell my stuff?

By: Paul Lindamood, Creative Director

While watching television the other night, I found myself caught up in a confounding dilemma – namely, how much money big advertisers are willing to spend for spot creative so cryptic and nebulous that no one but the creative team itself could likely decipher the core message. The dilemma of creative genius for genius’ sake.

Several spots aimed at investors, for instance, seemed to be more an eclectic exercise in slice-of-life than an artistic energizing of my investment muscle. And that’s just one example out of many – the advertising industry is, in fact, pockmarked with instances of spectacular creative gone wrong, concepts that fell in love with themselves somewhere along the way and inevitably didn’t do the job.

While most of us can appreciate a masterfully crafted ad, spot or communication, the bottom line is always the same: Will it do the job? Will it fall within budget? Will it ring the register? Because the best advertising creative ultimately must serve the client – not the artist or writer – before a single graphic or word is produced.

This is just fine with us. Actually, the majority of creative people in our business enjoy laboring in hopes of winning over a tough audience. We love to apply our engaging words, beautiful images, ethereal movement, and haunting music to involve, enamor, and intrigue.

Still … as we continue to beat our right brains silly, striving for the right look, the most arresting angle, the ultimate bon mot, we’re reluctant to acknowledge that simple words like “save” and “discount” have probably done a better job of selling than any theatre poster by Toulouse-Lautrec and that … is a humbling experience.


Penny Ohlmann Neimann

The Ohlmann Group has a rich history that began in Dayton, Ohio in 1949, where the agency was founded as Penny and Penny by Bob Penny and his wife Jean. In 1964, Walter Ohlmann joined the firm. Ralph Neiman came on in 1969 and the firm became Penny/Ohlmann/Neiman. In 2011, P/O/N was renamed The Ohlmann Group to better reflect the agency's ongoing evolution and collaborative nature.

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