Nine Ways to Improve an Ad

From Todd LaRoche, EVP, Managing Director of Creative

This is something everyone in the advertising industry should take a moment to read ( Whether you work in an agency on the account, creative or brand planning team, or on the client side, this piece is a great reminder of how great ideas, especially simply great ideas, need to be understood and respected for the power they can bestow upon a brand… even if they’re in violation of the “traditional tenants” of marketing communications. This classic article remains a sound lesson in how “comments, adds and builds“ can destroy great work.

“The 9 Ways to Improve an Ad” article first appeared in Communication Arts magazine forty-seven years ago. Fred Manley and Hal Riney first exposed it at a San Francisco Ad Club meeting. It was delivered by Fred very straight and seemed perfectly serious. They didn’t use just any ad. They set out to apply “rules” to the 1960 classic “Think Small” Volkswagen ad, which Advertising Age has called the best ad of the 20th century. This tongue-in-cheek article was the most reprinted CA article in the magazine’s history.

It’s a quick read, short and sweet. But a very powerful piece nonetheless. Keep it mind when you’re trying to develop arresting communications for your brand.


  • Mark Kaigwa January 27, 2010

    Thanks for sharing. Whether in filmmaking or copywriting it’s obvious that simple principles can help come up with the best way to put a sale across.

  • Mickey McDermott May 30, 2011

    I saw this reviewed live in a School of Visual Arts Account management class in the 80s, done by a senior acct management guy from DDB, our teacher. He said the “recommendations” actualy reflected some of the input of the client, if I recall correctly. Made a deep impression then and rings just as true today! — Mickey


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