Whim --> Win (DowntownComics.com Ad Case Study)

Sometimes, I do graphic design crap. I mention it sparsely here, mostly because my contract work is curiously boring to 99.9% of the population of everywhere. But sometimes, something really makes me beam and I have to share it. This is one such time:

I was asked in great haste by a good friend of mine, Doug at DowntownComics.com, to do an ad for their shop. He was a fan of the city-targeted book ads I did for Drew Curtis's book last year (feel free to dig around and look at them all, they're silly).

Now, given the huge success of all these comic-related properties lately, I knew that the big win to translate box-office success and community interest in these heroes into store visits was to play with the current round-up of movies, and let people know there is a story behind the movies that is rich and detailed, and that the guys at Downtown Comics were experts at helping you discover the history of these legendary characters.

I had about an hour to get it together and send it off. On a whim, I chose Batman, mostly because I'm REALLY excited about the new direction it's taken, and I'm really into the Christian Bale version of Batman.

Now, the destination for the ad is Indy.com, the local "who's who and what's hot" site for Indiana. It's a nice site, and is done with a tremendous amount of gloss and polish. Very well crafted. Lots of fine tuning, decorations and "flair" on the edges and corners.

Most of the ads running on that site are done with the exact same "style" - gloss, polish, figurework and textures in the background, gradients everywhere... In short, professional and nice.

That was the problem. They were literally blending in. You couldn't tell where the site ended and the ad began at first, and then once you realized it was an ad, it just fizzled.

For a comic book shop to stand out in the middle of all this gloss, it needed something... Simple. Purposely simple, in fact. Direct, to the point, and undeniable in its message.

So after taking a second to consider the site, this is what I came up with in almost exactly one hour:

And this is what it looks like placed on the site:

(Click image for full-size)

When I saw it live, I knew I'd succeeded in my goal - the ad is so dark with that Batman logo, in contrast to the slick and polished red gradient everywhere, it literally sucks your eye right to it. You cannot miss it. Then, the animation plays, and before you know it, you've just watched an advertisement.

I was happy, Doug was happy, and all was well. I went about eating my lunch.

Then, we got this email:

* * *
From: [Ad Manager]@indystar.com
Date: Thu, Jun 19, 2008 at 12:27 PM
Subject: Re: Downtown comics screen shot
To: Doug Stephenson


I think it helps that the ad was one of the best I've seen for online
advertising. Nice work on your end. It does look good on the page.


Sincerely, [Ad Manager]
* * *

Well now. That just made my day. I had to share :)