Recently I stumbled across a series of ads produced in 2006 for a men’s clothing company by the name of Stori. I have to admit that the first thing that caught my eye was an image of Spiderman getting dressed, but upon further inspection I noticed a few other things that I thought made these ads worthy of the awards they won.

What is it about these images that are so striking? Why do we remember them forever once we see them? One word. Contrast. The studio has created a number of layers of contrast and used each one to add to the perception of the product.

CONTRAST 1 – Color

For the most part these ads are very neutral in their color palette. The two page spreads ads are very monochromatic, using greys whites and beiges to create a very restful place for the eye. Then we get a punch of color, a red chest, a blue suit, a black mask (ok so black ISN’T a color, blame Bob Kane for that) that draws our attention to not only the intended focal point but also to the next layer of contrast…

CONTRAST 2 – Subject

There are a million clothing ads out there all of them trying to sell us on their brand. Utilizing images of sexy, or comfortable, or practical, or economical situations that resonate with their target the clothing company tries to draw us in, to create a feeling with their ads, making us believe we could be the person in that ad. Stori takes a slightly different approach. The make believe approach, with images that are beyond the realm of posibility. And recognizeable ones at that, what young man didn’t have a dream of growing up to become batman, spiderman or superman? The contrast of superhero in street clothes is one that definitely draws and keeps the audience’s attention.

CONTRAST 3 – Content

Once we get past the color and the subject we get to the content. We get the only two lines of copy in the ad “Outside Stori” “Inside Story” there are two simultaneous contrasts happening here. One is the play on words of “Stori” and “Story” which both contrasts and connects. We read story as something being told to us, and liken it to our own story, our life, our selves. Then we contrast that with “Stori” and link their clothes with our lives.

Contrast, one of the founding principles of design and visual literacy helps us create frames of reference, it forms strong memories and allows us to create and keep relationships. It also allows us to determine what we are and what we want to be. Stori’s use of contrast is subtle but strong and the results are an ad campaign that is not only memorable, but creative, award winning and a fun for readers. So take a look at your design, see how you contrast.

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