Designing A Poster For A Cause: Approaching Creatively An Important Issue

ImageOur assignment  for today’s Typography class was to design a for-cause poster. The choice for a cause was all ours.  It can be a political poster, a poster against the genocide, abortion, terror, war, hunger, death penalty, pollution, fur/animal testing, domestic violence, tobacco/alcohol, human trafficking and/or a poster to encourage the support for the cancer survivors and so on…

I picked to design for three causes:

1. Human Trafficking

2. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)

3. Environment – with a focus on saving the water…

Over a few days, I’ve developed the concept around the ideas of how visually and textually convey a strong message. I looked at the different posters made before. I analyzed the effectiveness of the ones that are considered to be powerful…

There’s more work to it than one could assume by looking at a poster like the one to the left – as an individual, you look at the poster ad and see one line that says: “For every 14 drinks, the brand shrinks 1.6%” And this is just one sentence and a graphics next to it that, actually, shows it to you , just in case if you can’t visualize it yourself. Powerful? Oh, yes, it is…

Did it take a peson who designed it and wrote the copy an hour to do this poster? Oh, not at all…On the contrary!

Graphically it could have taken him/her an hour or two to design ONCE the concept ad the storyboard/sketches were already ready. It’s not the ‘execution’ of the ad that takes the most time, it’s the coming up with the concept – the idea, the message, the visualization – that could take anything from one day to a month to develop. Nowadays, the client’s expectation from the designer/copywriter is much more higher than it’s used to be back in the days when the type and graphics were all done by hand. With the computer graphic programs today, the client expects a job done within days, but the problem is – [according to many of my friends who are working professionals] – that in most situations the client does not know that it takes MORE than just a graphic design program, like Photoshop, to come up with the ad/poster. It’s working on the IDEA, the CONCEPT that takes time. [This is also one of the things we study in the copywriting class as well, where the instructor doesn’t even want us to design it but rather present the idea, concept and an image first to identify, which works the best].

It’s very important to not only come up with a striking image that has NEVER been done before, but also with no-less powerful, influential text to go with it, which, was also NEVER done before. Not easy, right? Well…depends. Let’s think out-loud together.

As I’ve mentioned before, PETA is one of the greatest examples to see how to approach animal rights creatively. However, many copywriters and graphic designers have a hard time designing an effective poster/ad for a cause, because it has to be visually and copy-wise very powerful to get the attention of a regular person who goes about his/her business and is not necessary looking at the ads on the streets, TV, Internet and/or print. So, how to go about it and how do the others approach it? First – do get inspired by the works of the others, and not to steal the ideas, but mostly to see, study and analyze the approach of the others.

Our class instructor suggested to take a loot at the following materials and works of the other great designers to get inspired by:

1. The AIGA Design Annual

2. Propaganda: The Art of Persuasion World War II by Anthony Rhodes. You can get it here.

3. Revolutionary Soviet Film Posters by Mildred Constantine & Alan Fern. You can get it here.

4. Posters by Christopher DeNoon (USA posters from WWII).

5. And check the books on Soviet design in the early 20th century (it was all revolutionary)

Here’s a few very good examples:

il_fullxfull.320963706 26congress

creative-ads008 Ad. original_23194_wdwGI4JOLu8EJlfeElWhRJbUC ch childhood-cancer-survivor_2



Now, can you tell me why the “Peace Little Girl” ad is considered one of the best political ads ever made in the history of advertising? Do you know what I’m talking about? Here.

And here’s the storyboard for it:



3 thoughts on “Designing A Poster For A Cause: Approaching Creatively An Important Issue

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