Why Black and White Ads Still Work in a Modern-Day World

Why Black and White Ads Still Work in a Modern-Day World

Jan. 12, 2021

With millions of print and commercial ads saturating the digital and physical world, marketers must go the extra mile to create campaigns that capture their audiences’ attention while maintaining an air of originality. In today’s environment this is no easy feat, but sometimes certain features of an advert can give it that extra uniqueness it needs to succeed. Believe it or not, one of these features is creating monochrome commercials in black and white. Let’s take a look at several reasons why these ads can still entice viewers.

  • The product becomes the focal point

Think about the last five advertisements you laid eyes on. Odds are each of them were displayed in a variety of colors, some brighter than others. It’s a fact that color psychology in marketing is an extremely important tool that can help drive sales. Consumers are encouraged to buy and spend every day without even being conscious of the fact. For example, brands may choose red instead of green to represent a specific emotion, predicting likely buyer behavior in the process.

However, it may come as a surprise to some to learn that ads set in black and white can actually motivate consumers towards a product even more than colored ads. This is because colorless advertising tends to draw a viewer’s eye towards the ad’s more prominent key features rather than promoting distraction with loud coloring. When a commercial or ad is set in black and white, the viewer may be more likely to concentrate on what is actually being presented, therefore watching with more attention to detail. Although they are not as common, industries should not underestimate the power of colorless ads in a colorful world.

  • They appeal to society’s shared sense of nostalgia

Have you ever heard a song that instantly transported you back in time just through its lyrics? What about a smell that gave your stomach butterflies because it reminded you of a specific person, thing, or place from the past? Most people would answer yes to each question, proving that as a collective society, human beings are constantly captivated by feelings of longing, especially for a previous time. When these feelings are driven by consumerism, it is often called nostalgia marketing, or the effort to capture an audience’s attention through the use of easily recognizable past fads or trends.

Because this is such a common feeling across the board, many brands from different sectors all around the world strategically use elements of nostalgia marketing within their campaigns to drive interest and attention surrounding their products. In this way, advertisements shown in black and white can have an immediate advantage over color commercials as their presentation can evoke feelings of nostalgia in the consumer. In addition, black and white ads can stand out in the modern-day world as the majority of markets today opt for flashy and brightly color branding and design.

For example, in their recent brand refresh campaign, PokerStars employs a highly cinematic format with black and white imagery for their fast-paced 1-minute commercial. The world’s leading online poker platform reached their audience through nostalgia marketing in the smallest details, even costume design. In a similar way, iconic luxury fashion brand Chanel recently showcased their 2020 autumn campaign using black and white print ads, drawing on their older look and feel.

In fact, you may be surprised by the vast number of brands that utilize the elements of nostalgia marketing on a daily basis without you even noticing. Both huge leaders in their respective industries, brands like Coca-Cola and Apple have attracted customers over the years with a passion for the past. The world’s favorite soft drink company still uses a handful of their vintage ads in campaigns today, whether that be in print or commercials. In 2016, Apple brought back the Cookie Monster in a commercial that featured the beloved character, driving shareability through nostalgia.

Society’s craving for the past is undeniable. In each of us rests a familiar longing for some era that is behind us. When advertisements can effectively produce stories in black and white, they peak consumers' interest and the desire to attain whatever is being offered

  • Black and white is a classic and timeless pair

Everyone knows that black and white is a combination unlike any other. It’s chic and effortless, elegant, and non-pretentious. Whether in fashion or films, the pairing is vintage yet altogether timeless. Even in interior design, the colorless combo can set any space apart as stylish and classy. When it comes to advertising, black and white exudes tastefulness as it strips down the product, using the image to convey a powerful message through simplicity. A great example of this is Curry & Paxton’s recent brand film, The Getaway. Shot entirely in black and white, the British eyewear company embraces a colorless production, creating a memorable piece of content

Many modern-day brands use old-fashioned features in their campaigns today, drawing from vintage elements like this old soap print ad

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