a storytelling with data ad

One of my favorite indulgences on a weekend morning is to sit in the sun on our terrace and read the latest copy of Dwell magazine. A number of things in the universe have to align to make this possible: namely, the sun must be shining and the child must be sleeping. The universe aligned in just this way this past Saturday (bliss!).

I find that the design of products and the design of spaces can sometimes influence my thinking, spark an idea, or act as inspiration when it comes to the visual design work on which I focus much of my attention. On this particular read through Dwell, it was the following advertisement that caught my eye:

This ad caused me pause for a few reasons:

  1. The leading stat - 1 in 5 children go to school hungry - is powerful. When it comes to communicating a number or two, tables and graphs don't usually have a place, as the numbers themselves carry a lot more attention-grabbing power.
  2. The use of preattentive attributes to make certain elements of the visual distinct: the numbers at the top are in bold, all caps and underlining draw attention to the second line, and the sort of sea-green in the logo and text at the bottom emphasize the un and is (when it comes to this last point, I might have chosen different portions of text to draw attention to, but I think that's one of those things that can be up for debate and probably there was a good reason the designer chose these particular pieces - perhaps the dichotomy between un and is?).
  3. The story. It's short and sweet, but still a robust example of storytelling with data, which, with the personal anecdote and picture are made to be much more human than a simple stat on its own would be.
  4. The picture. Speaking of pictures, one frequent question in my workshops is about the use of pictures when it comes to visual communication. I don't use pictures a lot personally, but as mentioned above, I do definitely think there are ways to use pictures that appeal on a different level than numbers do. Here, I think the pairing of the two is effective.

What do you think of this ad as an example of storytelling with data? Is it effective? Why or why not? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

another advertising graph

I feel conflicted when it comes to the use of graphs in advertising. I like it in theory. But in practice, I tend to be disappointed with what I see. Almost like the designers couldn't come up with anything better, so they threw in a graph. Perhaps it's just my nature, but also when I see a graph in an advertisement, I'm immediately skeptical - it's like I start with the hypothesis that the creator is trying to mislead me. I'm not sure what drives that. Obviously, I like the use of graphs to communicate information; what is it about graphs in advertising that gets under my skin?

Last month, I enjoyed reading your comments on the vacuum graph. Last week, I came across another advertising graph in a fashion magazine:

I can outline specific things I would change in the above visual. But beyond that, it's interesting to me that my first reaction to data in advertising like that depicted above is skepticism vs. improved understanding.

What is your reaction to the Neutrogena graph? Have you seen examples of data and data visuals used successfully in advertising? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

the vacuum graph

I was flipping through a recent copy of Dwell over the weekend and came across the following advertisement.

In case you can't read sideways, the * at the left says: "Machine representation relative to Air Watts. Suction tested against upright market to ASTM F558 at cleaner head, dust-loaded as per IEC 60312-1.

It caused me to pause (as most graphs, especially when found in unusual places - like a vacuum ad in a design magazine - do) and stare at it for a bit. I have my reaction, but rather than share that with you, I thought I'd open up this post to gather your feedback. What do you like about the ad? What bothers you? What do you imagine the creators assumed about their audience when they conceptualized the design? What questions might you want to ask the designers? Does the ad make you want to buy a Dyson?

Leave a comment with your thoughts. (I look forward to reading them!)