We have all heard the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but my recent trip to India demonstrated how true that expression really is. During my visit there, I noticed several billboards that stood out because of their simplicity and effectiveness. Most of the billboards had very few words, and pictures did most of the work to convey messages.
What struck me was the direct impact that even one picture could have. Although the literacy rate in India grew significantly since the country gained independence from the British in 1947, it is still not very high (India’s literacy rate was 74% in 2011). The creators of these billboards and commercials have kept in mind a few main points.
The intended audience members are not very well educated, if at all, and are so busy that they hardly have a moment to grasp the message. So, the creators have to come up with a message that is eye catching, easy to understand and quickly gets to the point. Also, since India has multiple languages, the picture has to do most of the work of conveying the message without the help of text.
These commercial billboards not only advertise a product effectively, but they also highlight a few of the social evils that plague some strata of the Indian society. The ad that impressed me the most was about female infanticide, which sadly is still practiced in some parts of India. The creators have strategically highlighted the projected scarcity of brides in the future, as seen in the picture below. All this, with only a few words to let the picture speak for itself.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and one image can truly speak volumes for products, services, and major issues. Advertising in India and the United States may differ in a few ways, but it’s clear that the power of smart, creative pieces and thoughtful messages is universal.
Header image courtesy Flickr user mckaysavage