Print ad analysis: finance and art direction

Back in 2008, I noticed something about financial print ads. In almost every case, the ad design included a strong upwards movement: the way a photo was cropped, or the angle of a background. In one case an office building had been photoshopped into a giant up arrow.

It made sense. After all, if you’re reaching investors, why not link your brand with the concept of “upness”?

We all know what happened next in the economy. Suddenly all that optimism seemed misplaced. Now that the post-recession ads have been out for a while, I thought I’d assess their use of directional design.

Most in-your-face is the “Turn Here” campaign from Fidelity. The green arrow is the beacon, a navigation system built into your retirement plan. Few executions show the arrow going straight up or straight ahead; there are bends in the road. But surely if we stay on the line, we can all be saved.

Fidelity 2010

Ally turning things around

Then there’s Ally Bank, a brand introduced in 2009—and GMAC’s way of moving on from difficult times. Take a look. A giant logo visually turns things around. After that, everything will be “Straightforward,” as promised by the multifaceted tagline.

Barclays Capital (below) mentions the road to success in its headline, as we’re faced with the ups and downs of suspension bridge cables. Still, the road points straight up on the page, leading to some tree-covered hills.

Credit Suisse

And finally, Credit Suisse has at least three executions, all in love with whitespace, and all using models who have the audacity to look up.


A great article from 2009 talks some more about financial campaigns at large: