Minimalism is a global concept in terms of lifestyle, aesthetics and marketing. The idea believes in the possibilities of ‘less is more’, that is the use of fewer resources to create greater meaning. The application of this concept has been used by advertising companies to advertise their products giving rise to Minimalistic Advertising as a popular form.
Minimalism as a movement has its roots in David Thoreau's book Walden where he reflected on life in a forest cabin, away from worldly intervention. Further, the Bauhaus school in the 1920-30s fused beauty with utility in their design principle. In the 1960s, young artists such as Agnes Martin, sculptor and artist Donald Judd, artist Frank Stella among others resisted the idea of stifling conventions of fine art, giving rise to the word ‘Minimalism’. The movement slowly gained momentum across all walks of life, with people realising the advantages of simple life.
In advertising, minimalism refers to the strategic use of extended white, high aesthetics, less text and graphics and a resistance towards anything excessive. It believes in providing a transparent, modest design that limits potential distraction, challenging the ornamentation and “noise” of traditional advertising. Minimalist advertisements provide the essence of the product in one image, one sentence or one small sign instead of going at length about the advantages of the product. They focus on engaging the consumer with the advertisement and providing the information with few resources. Generally, minimalistic ads are creative, humorous and powerful. Let us look at a few successful campaigns to understand it better.
Campaign for Volkswagen, Beetle, 1959
At a time when large cars were being built for the people who were obsessed with muscle cars reflecting the country's superpower status. It was a challenge to sell Beetle, a small strange looking, compact car, manufactured in a plant built by Nazi Germany. An advertising campaign ‘Think Small’ was introduced by Julian at the Doyle Dane Bernbach. The campaign did not only boost the sales, it built a lifetime of brand loyalty and changed the nature of advertising for the years to come. The advertisement features a bare background, with only the car angled at a point to shift the viewer's attention on the product. Below it, in small font are advantages of owning a small car. Considered as one of the best campaigns of the 20th century, its success is the subject of various books.
Mcdonald's Free Wi-Fries
Mcdonald's is known for its creative minimalist advertisements. When the restaurant decided to give free Wi-Fi, this is how they conveyed it. The ad was developed in 2009 in Sydney.
In this unique print advertisement, we see one image which can be perceived as a Rajasthani man; or two camels and birds in a desert. The only text is the tagline saying, “Jaane kya Dikh Jaye.” With few resources, they could not have said it better.
According to Mr Ninad Umargekar, current Chief Marketing Strategist at JG Hosiery Pvt Ltd and an advertising expert for nearly 18 years, minimalistic advertising is a good option for established companies aimed at a global audience. With upcoming advertising agencies and social media advertising, it is slowly forming a niche in India.
At a time of dwindling attention spans and proliferation of digital media, Minimalistic Advertising can be promising . A practical application for Minimalistic Advertising is outdoor advertising such as billboards, as people may not have time to read long body copies, but may appreciate a minimal representation. Finally, they reinforce the company's trust in the efficiency of the product or service rather than pleading its value.