Newspaper Ad Analysis

The following is a review of five selected newspaper advertisements. Some of the advertisements have been chosen from award-winning ads located in the archives of the, while others were selected from Click on each ad link below or scroll down to review the analysis of each ad. If you desire to review the advertisement more closely, click on the ad image itself to see a larger version.

Advertisement 1: Reborn to be Alive, Save 8 Lives

Advertisement 2: Reporters without Borders, Newspaper Sticks

Advertisement 3: HBO, Dragon Shadow

Advertisement 4: Newspaper Association of America, How to Create a Newspaper Ad by Lee Clow

Advertisement 5:  Precision Laser Tattoo Removal, Kitty


Advertisement 1: Reborn to be Alive, 2008

 “Save 8 Lives

About the Advertisement:

The newspaper advertisement for the Belgium organ donor registry, Reborn to be Alive, features an obituary page of a newspaper with spaces for nine obituaries. However, only one obituary shows on the page. Eight empty spaces for other obituaries accompany the lone obituary.

The advertisement stimulates the curiosity of the reader to encourage continued review of the ad. It further creates an altruistic appeal to the reader to do something useful and helpful to others.


The purpose of the advertisement is to call attention to the fact that one organ donor can save eight lives. The visual use of white space on the obituary page does two things: First, it calls attention to the lone obituary at the center of the page and evokes curiosity of the reader. Second, it suggests that the individual in the obituary listed was an organ donor, and further suggests that the donor saved eight lives and eliminated the need for eight accompanying obituaries.

The key goal is to increase organ donation. While specifics about the effectiveness of the advertisement are uncertain the European Union, of which Belgium is a member, did see an 18% increase in deceased organ donation between 2004 and 2013 (European Commission Staff, 2014). Belgium is also one of the top European Union Countries for organ donations (European Commission Staff).

Target Market:

The target market is likely to be older individuals who are more prone to read the obituary page of the newspaper. Although, the ad will probably pique the curiosity of any reader who comes across it.

Call to Action:

The call to action is to register with the directory and to donate your organs after death.

Value Proposition:

Make a difference in the world. Organ donors save lives.

Advertisement 2: Reporters without Borders, 2014

 “Newspaper Sticks

About the Advertisement:

Newspaper Sticks is a campaign of four advertisements (one advertisement in the campaign is featured above) for the organization Reporters without Borders. Each of the advertisements shows an image of a newspaper on a filing “stick” as might be seen in a library. An individual, presumably a reporter, whose hands are over his or her head and crossed at the stick to suggest the individual is least handcuffed, or at worst tortured. In the advertisement above for the German market, the writing on the newspaper stick tells the reader, “In many countries, journalists risk torture and oppression for the sake of the truth.”

The advertisement triggers the emotions of the reader out of concern for the safety of journalists.


The goal of the ad makes the reading public aware of the risk to journalists in countries where free speech may not be protected. A secondary goal is to solicit donations in support of the organization, its mission for freedom of information, and the services it offers to journalists.

It is unclear as to whether the campaign was effective in achieving its donation goal; however, it is effective in delivering the message that the lives of journalists may be at risk.

Target Market:

Given that it does not appear the advertisement appeared in American newspapers, the target market for this ad is presumed to be those living in countries where the concern with the suppression of objective and accurate information is high. Although the target market is not clear, the audience is likely to be over age 50 based on Pew Research Center Statistics on readership (Pew Research Center Staff, 2016). While Pew Research Center data relies on American readership, further research points to similar declines in younger readers of German newspapers, which would support the older reader as the target for this advertising campaign (Schnibben, C., 2013).

Call to Action:

The call to action is to donate now to support freedom of information and potentially save the life of a journalist.

Value Proposition:

Accurate information about the happenings around the world is critical for the well-being of us all. You will not get objective and correct information if journalists are persecuted.

Advertisement 3: HBO, 2013

 “Dragon Shadow

About the Advertisement:

Dragon Shadow is part of a multi-media campaign for the third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones series. The print advertisement depicts a shadow of a flying dragon in the center of the newspaper spread as if to suggest to the reader that a dragon might be flying overhead as the reader turns the page. The promotional language for the show is located in the lower right corner of the page, which is where the reader will likely look as he or she grabs the page to turn it.

The advertisement utilizes surprise (as the reader turns the page and sees the dragon) and anticipation to engage the reader.


The goal of the ad is to fuel anticipation for the coming season of the show Game of Thrones amongst current HBO subscribers, and perhaps encourage the purchase of an HBO subscription for non-subscribers to watch the show.

HBO’s campaign seems to have been effective as the third season premiere episode attracted 4.4 million viewers, up 13% from the season two premiere (Patton, 2013).

Target Market:

The ad’s target market is current fans of the television series and possibly readers of the George R. R. Martin books of the same name.

Call to Action:

Don’t miss the season premiere of season three on March 31.

Value Proposition:

Grown dragons will be a big part of season three.

Advertisement 4: Newspaper Association of America, 2002

 “How to Create A Newspaper Ad by Lee Clow


About the Advertisement:

This advertisement by the Newspaper Association of America was one of a series created for the organization by renowned “ad men” to extol the virtue of effective newspaper advertising. The advertisements were made available to all association members including the New York Times, who ran the accompanying ad.

This ad by Lee Clow tells the reader that newspapers are daily occurrences; therefore, a “special medium” with a sense of urgency. Advertisements, then, must “demand attention.” The most effective ads, according to Clow in the advertisement, incorporate a picture of some sort to grab attention, and then a few words that create a story to engage the audience’s intelligence, humor, and curiosity. The ad, says Clow, must be “smart and interesting.”

The advertisement, which incorporates a hand-drawn, Picasso-like illustration, and hand-written text engages the reader’s curiosity because it’s so different than the printed words and photographs typically found in the newspaper.


The purpose of the advertisement appears to be to help newspapers who are members of the Newspaper Association of America court advertisers in their markets, thereby increasing advertising revenue.

With newspaper readership declining it is likely that only advertisers attempting to reach certain demographic groups would find newspaper advertising appealing (Pew Research Center Staff, 2016). However, when this ad ran in 2002, newspaper advertisement was higher and such advertising might have been more effective.

Target Market:

The target market for this ad is business owners, marketers, and advertising professionals who are readers of the newspaper. It makes the assumption that business owners and marketers who are reading the paper will also have customers likely to read the newspaper; however, this may not necessarily be true.

Call to Action:

The call to action is passive and somewhat indirect. Although the call seems to be to “advertise in this newspaper.”

Value Proposition:

Advertisers can benefit from the credibility and intimacy created by newspapers by association.

Advertisement 5: Precision Laser Tattoo Removal, 2011


About the Advertisement:

Kitty is one of three advertisements in a campaign for Precision Laser Tattoo Removal of Canada. The advertisement shows a tattoo of a white kitten with a bow on its head and a couple of flowers. The tattoo is at at the waistline of, presumably, a female. The kitten has a red laser dot on its forehead to seemingly indicate it is being marked for removal.  The red laser dot is reminiscent of the dots we often see in movies when a sniper has targeted an individual for “removal.”

This advertisement plays to the emotion of regret.


The aim of this ad is to remind readers that tattoos no longer have to be permanent and encourage a call to Precision Laser Tattoo Removal. The goal is to increase sales.

Target Market:

The apparent age of the individual in the photo might suggest the target audience is likely to be younger. Although, anyone with a tattoo could be in the target market.

Call to Action:

The call to action is for the reader is to contact Precision Laser Tattoo Removal if the reader has a tattoo that he or she wants to be eliminated. The company makes the call to action difficult because there is no phone number and the reader has to search for the website address (Hint: It’s at the top of the ad).

Value Proposition:

You don’t have to live with your regrets for the rest of your life.

Featured  Image Source: Getty Images, Lyle Leduc



European Commission Staff (2014, November 26). Recent Facts and Figures. Journalist Workshop on Organ donation and transplantation. Retrieved April 7, 2017, from

Patton, D. (2013, April 1). ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3 Premiere Hits Viewership High. Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 9, 2017, from

Pew Research Center Staff (2016). Newspapers: Daily Readership by Age. Retrieved April 7, 2017, from

Schnibben, C. (2013, August 13). Newspaper Crisis Hits Germany. Speigel Online. Retrieved April 7, 2017, from


Last Updated on December 4, 2018 by David Harkins


  1. sn


    I really like your selection of ads this week. The obituary was my favorite because of the serious message it sponsors – what a creative idea. I was also surprised by the flying dragon shadow – I have never seen them do that before! That’s nice to see that technique for an eye-catching glimpse into the next series (it really takes you there). I really enjoyed the ad with the font. I am a big believer in infographics as well as the art of creating graphical elements with font and negative space. I like the clean lines that it represents and the subtlety of the end-product. Well done!



  2. The first two ads really pulled me in with their graphic images. I was moved right away to look at them more closely and see what they were all about. The donor ad was my favorite of all five. I wonder how many people remember a newspaper on a filing stick? I had trouble understanding what the advertising drawing one was trying to promote. I tried to read it, but then stopped. Having never scene a Games of Thrones show, I still thought the shadow was still a very creative way to build interest. I know it made me look twice. At first I thought Little Kitty might be some sort of gun or scope ad with the red spot on her forehead. She’s too cute to be removed but it is a sweet, funny ad once I read the fine print.

    • I like that you thought the Kitty in the tattoo ad was too cute to be removed. I suppose it depends on the “wearer.” A guy who got that tattoo as a prank might regret it later. 😉 The ad is gender neutral, I think. It could be a female, but it could also be a male. I believe that this adds a level of complexity of the message.

      And I agree on the newspaper stick. I remember them from reading newspapers and magazines in libraries. But, how many people go to a library today? Maybe just the same demographic who is reading the newspaper. What do you think?

  3. Nice layout of newspaper ads and selection. I like that these are different and that they capture the audience in a unique way. For instance, Save 8 Lives, is informative and tells others how many lives can be saved by being a donor. The obituary is morbid, but also refreshing that there is only one death mentioned.

    I enjoy Game of Thrones and think the shadow of the Dragon was enticing for the reader to feel suspense and wonder about the show to find out more.

    The Reporters with out Borders, also promotes awareness of what may be endured to gain the truth. Journalism is a risky job to have and by making a donation it can help keep them out of harms way.

    The Kitty Tattoo was a little humorous and also promotes awareness that if you have an embarrassing regrettable tattoo there is a solution – just have it removed. The tricky part, you pointed out was finding out how to contact the company.

    The how to create a newspaper ad was unique and it did in fact engage the curiosity. It was hard to focus on what you had to say about the ad because I kept trying to read it. The sketch of the face that was surrounded by different sizes of lettering draws you in.

    Thank you for sharing

    • Thanks, Sabrina. I enjoy Game of Thrones, too, and thought that was a good ad to reconnect fans. I love that you focused so much on the NY Times ad that you lost track of my analysis. Either my analysis didn’t engage you well, or the ad was very compelling. 🙂 It took me a few times to absorb the ad, too. That’s why I included it; it’s effective because it engages the reader.

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Newspaper Ad Analysis

by David Harkins time to read: 7 min
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