How do you call people to action? How do you motivate people to buy a branded product or service, donate to a charity, or support a cause? You start with a compelling advertising idea based on what the target audience desires and what engages them.

An advertising idea—or concept—is the creative reasoning, the intention, underlying advertising communication. The idea must be strategic—based on the information and research set forth in the creative brief (see chapter 1). The advertising idea drives all your copy, art direction, and design decisions—how you visualize and design, why you select typefaces and select or create images, and the reasoning behind your color palette selection. An ad idea is expressed through the synthesis of copy and design. Any advertising idea should be on-brand, grab attention, and call people to action.

The creative side of advertising is complex. To create you need to be able to understand brand strategy, generate ideas, and design or write. There are basics to learn, just as there are fundamentals in other disciplines such as sports, fine arts, dance, and music. Before you can play pro soccer, you have to learn the fundamentals.


Generating ideas is an act of discovery and synthesis. Drawing upon your understanding of contemporary culture and your audience, the creative brief strategy, the brand, and your sensibilities, you reach an insight that leads to the aha moment that produces an idea.

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