Ads shouldn’t look like ads

People go to Google to answer their questions, and to Facebook or Instagram to connect with friends. They come on TikTok to be entertained. Nobody goes anywhere to watch ads.

Therefore, the power of an ad is diminished as soon as the user realises it’s an ad. So never design your ads to look like ads. Leave the logo out, and create the kind of content that people wanted to discover in the first place.


  • If you can squint your eye and still recognize that your visual is probably an advertisement, you’re doing it wrong.
  • Influencer marketing is amongst the fastest rising trends in marketing. Why? Because influencers have an authentic relationship to buyers, and brands want to tap into that. If our trusted influencer says so, it must be true!
  • When creating the visuals (“creative”) for an advertisement, consider what people wanted to see when they opened the platform. For example: on Instagram, people want to see beautiful pictures and get inspiration. On Quora, the answer to a question.
  • People want to receive something of value, either through education, entertainment or otherwise. They want to know what’s new, what’s cool, or how to do things differently to become more successful. Focus on providing value, rather than selling a product.
  • Practically anything that looks like it’s a native editorial or a piece of user-generated content will perform better than what looks and smells like an advert. Keep it real.

In Practice

On January 25 1987, quarterback Phil Simms won the Super Bowl with the New York Giants. As he walked off the pitch, journalists jumped on him for an interview. One of them asked: "Now that you've won the Super Bowl, Phil Simms, what are you going to do?", and Phil answered “I’m going to Disney World!”.

Disney CEO Michael Eisner had paid Phil Simms $75,000 to say that one line, as he was interviewed after the game. Eisner had also paid the opponent’s quarterback the same amount, in case the Denver Broncos won. Not only did it do wonderful marketing for Disney, the concept caught on, and turned into a ritual. Today, every aspiring quarterback dreams about being able to say “I’m going to Disney World” after winning the most important match of their life.

Pair with

  • Ogilvy on Advertising [Book]
  • Sam Oven Facebook ads (Bill Gates & Warren Buffett)
What hooks them?