Visual appeal always had a prominent place in advertising. The old saying is that a picture is worth thousand words, so many advertisers usually try to visually communicate messages rather than bog down in heavy text. The role of advertising visuals include obtaining attention, creating impact and stimulating interest from an indifferent audience through conveying a main selling point of products or brands. How can the visual element be translated into an effective selling message? This is the crux of every advertising campaign today. What stature does the copy hold then?
Alque Padamsee, Ad veteran, said, "Life has become far more fast-paced today, and people barely spend ten minutes of their time flicking through ads. In the earlier days, you could promote your product or service by writing compelling copy and expect it to be read and remembered. In the days, when consumers used to maintain scrapbooks, brands could be counted on the fingertips and good copywriters did come your way. Copy-led campaigns were a practical solution. Today, you need a pacey television campaign, with sharp visual effects and distribution among a multitude of channels. At the most, you need a tag line to inspire recall and differentiation, and that's where it ends. With reading habits fast fading among people, it's not surprising that long copy has almost faded into oblivion. Brand building is more about visual effects, television masquerades and a circus with film stars more than anything else."
Meanwhile, Josy Paul, Country Head, RMG David, said that there is no such thing as a copy-led age and a visual-led one. Paul said, "The crux of the matter is -- What's the idea at hand? For instance, the TVC on Asian Paints, Har Ghar Kuch Kehta Hain, is primarily a copy-led idea. On the other hand, a commercial like Fevicol wherein there are visuals of people sitting on top of a bus is primarily visual-led. In the Hutch commercial, both copy and visuals assume equal importance. It's the idea, which gives recall. If the idea doesn't have much value, it doesn't amount to anything."
S Kasliwal, MD, S Kumar's Nationwide, said that with increasing fragmentation and clutter, marketers tend to focus more on visuals than copy. Kasliwal added, "Consumer behaviour has changed over the time. The entire process of buying just occurs in a split second, as does the entire process of media consumption. You have a split second to get through your target audience. And what better way to do it than compelling visuals and imagery? Give your consumer long copy to read, and he may just abandon the page and move on to the next. Advertising agencies and marketers are aware of this fact, which is why you find ads that are technologically brilliant in the current day, and perhaps not as innovative in terms of copy."
The cliché, "everyday we are bombarded by thousands of messages," is real, and consumers do react by enacting 'selective perception' and tuning out of ad messages. Say too much, and the consumer would blot out the message. Say too little, and he just may not notice your brand. Visuals could be the saving grace.