3 ways to make the most out of B&W print ads

Black and white print ads have often been thought of as inferior to full colour prints – many a time, B&W print ads are chosen merely for the reason that they are more cost-efficient. For marketers with smaller budgets, this poses a problem because coloured ads have a significant advantage in attracting the attention of readers.

Fortunately, there are ways to utilise black and white print ads so that they stand out even more so than their more colourful counterparts. Here are 3 ways to get the most out of your next B&W print ad:


Less is more

Minimalism is often underrated. Especially with B&W ads, many advertisers see the need to overcompensate for the lack of colour by piling on excess information. This can actually hurt your advertisement. Try minimising clutter by keeping your ad direct and as uncomplicated as possible.

benz-xmas 3 ways to make the most out of B&W print ads

A minimalist Mercedes Benz Christmas ad.

Taking cue from the rule that less is more, you can maximise the efficiency of your B&W ad  by keeping your copy short. Be brisk and crisp. Long, drawn-out chunks of text are often ignored as they don’t look very reader-friendly.

Instead, focus on your key selling points, as this will make it easier for readers to pick out your main message. Using numbers and bullet points can also help your ad appear less like an overwhelming a mass of text and more like a helpful checklist.


Use photos with high contrast

With B&W ads, one of the biggest challenges advertisers face is finding a photo that doesn’t get washed out in print. One way around this is to ensure that any photos accompanying your B&W ad are highly contrasted against the background.

Contrast is very important when it comes to black and white photography and is often used as a matter of style. When applied in black and white advertisements, high contrast B&W photos help draw readers’ attention to your ad.

These photos naturally stand out, especially since so much of print advertising is done in colour. Leverage this to your advantage by opting for contrasting black and white images rather than bland grey-toned images. It’s also good to note that black and white photos offer more drama, which can work in your favour and set your ad apart even more.
2-seconds-601x1024 3 ways to make the most out of B&W print ads

“Two seconds to spot are two seconds too late”, a powerful B&W ad by McCann Erickson, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Play with ad sizes

By nature, typical B&W print ads blend into the background. Instead of opting for standard horizontal half page and junior page advertisements, you can look towards using special sizes, to grab the reader’s attention.

For example, try advertising via a vertical panel that extends from the top to the bottom of the page.

While less can certainly be more, you should also consider utilising a larger space for ads, as it can also work to your advantage. The space that a bigger-sized ad offers you can make up for the lack of colour in B&W ads. A bigger space also gives you more options to play around with white space and opens up a whole breadth of creative opportunities.

Even though many brands would still opt for full colour ads given the chance, black and white print ads still have their merit. By being ruthless with copy editing, selecting the right photos and utilising advertising space, B&W ads can create strong, lasting impact on readers. So don’t be afraid to get creative the next time you need to develop a B&W print ad.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *