Catchy imagery, compelling copy doubles the impact for these ads

By Lewis Boulton


London, United Kingdom


After two years of writing about some of the most innovative and captivating UK news brand advertising, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to avoid the usual words to describe campaigns that stand out: “Striking” and “eye-catching” are just two usual suspects I need to retire a little more often.

But looking back at recent creative for some inspiration, I noticed I mostly use words like these to describe fantastic visuals or a brilliant use of format. They’re rightly in need of recognition, but what of the other, often more subtle marker of a great creative campaign — captivating copy?

While the right words still need matching visuals to make an impact, incisive writing can educate, entice, and entertain — whether as an opportunity to speak to readers on a certain issue or to put the cherry or top of beautiful imagery.

Brands that nail this combination stand to make real connections with readers.

According to the RAMetrics database evaluating the effectiveness of news brand advertising, ads that combine both elements are not only slightly more engaging than those with imagery or text alone (80% vs. 79% and 75%, respectively), but, crucially, also encourage more action from audiences:

  • 37% took action after seeing an ad with both text and imagery.
  • Only 31% took action after an image-only ad.
  • And 30% after just text.

Here are just five recent campaigns where copy and visuals unite to pack a real punch.


Normally the age-old writing advice is “show, don’t tell.” But when the copy is just as mouth-watering as the imagery opposite, it’s time to break a few rules.

Supermarket Waitrose is the bearer of good news with this sumptuous ad introducing its new Japan Menyū range.

Dinnertime, anyone?


When a long-trusted brand changes its brand identity for the first time in decades, sometimes a simple image just won’t cut it.

That’s particularly the case for building society Nationwide, which uses a double-page spread to show its shiny new identity while maintaining its long-standing values.


Good copy doesn’t have to be witty one-liners or memorable mottos to make an impact. Released to coincide with World Mental Health Day, this ad from British television network ITV uses copy in a highly original and visual way to encourage adults to ask kids to do their mental health “homework.”

Marks & Spencer

It’s not often a food ad goes completely without any food imagery to make its point, but M&S manages it by making opposites attract (readers’ attention, at least).

This copy-only ad makes the text itself the visual, using a double half-page spread, stark black-and-white backgrounds, and an unmissable font to supplement the campaign’s contrasting “always/never” message.


This gatefold ad really goes above and beyond to deliver a truly impactful campaign. It’s the visuals that first attract readers, with their fantastically faithful homage to a particularly triangular ‘90s McDonald’s identity.

Once the flaps are opened, however, the real feat of the campaign is revealed: several stories written by real Times culture journalists about the best music, TV, and more from the era. What’s more, even the format pays tribute to the ‘90s by recreating The Times’ former broadsheet layout. 

A real tour de force in combining the best of imagery and text to brilliant effect.

About Lewis Boulton

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