Classic advertising examples rejected by Facebook’s 20% text rule.

Forget what you learnt at design school. The Facebook crew have changed the way we approach typography in social media.

Facebook would like you to believe that effective visual communication is made up of clean photographs and illustration visuals. Text on the other hand is far less important these days when communicating ideas and should take up less than 20% of a promoted post image. What?

“Too much text can look like spam and make people think that your advert is low quality.”

Yep. A while ago back there, someone at Facebook HQ lost the plot when they decided this was the answer to a cleaner news feed for all. It’s not the kids posting memes, instagram quotes or ecards — it’s the advertisers that are cluttering up the place with low quality content.

“Your ad wasn’t approved because it includes an image that’s covered by more than 20% of text overlay.”

This rejection notice not only caused many client and advertising teams to release a barrage of 4 letter words in protest, it’s literally caused poor young design students the world over to question their very future. After all, Typography has long been a vital part of advertising and visual communication.

In the past, Facebook have highlighted the fact that effective print ads also perform well in social. Indeed they do.

If this is the case, what you see below are not effective print ads, just spam.

Let’s take a look at a collection of classic advertising examples, rejected under Facebook’s 20% text rule (along with suggested workarounds).

Diesel ‘Be Stupid’ campaign — a timeless classic and a brand renowned for using bold typography.

REJECTED. That copy isn’t going to fly, let’s revise it to “stupid has the balls”, make it really tiny at the bottom of the image and also remove the brand strap line.

Carlsberg — an idea not made possible without the thoughtful use of typography.

REJECTED. Let’s shrink the typo and bottle down to a postage stamp size, hopefully it will get the same sort of engagement in the news feed guys… Yeah

McDonalds — one of the biggest companies and advertisers in the world. Impact sells.

REJECTED. Guys, we’ll have to take the text out of the image and put it into the copy of the post, I’m sure a burger on it’s own will have the same impact when people are scanning through their news feed… What??

Skype — when typography says it all.
Skype — when typography says it all.

REJECTED. Nice thought guys but let’s scrap this idea and go with stock photos of kids playing around on the internet and put the text in the update instead. Yeah I know, it will look like a google image search but will have to do.

Still — Nice series that relies on typography scale and impact.

REJECTED. Let’s take the logo off the bottom and shrink the type down about half the size, yeah cool. Sorted.

Bacardi — typography as a medium to communicate nostalgia.

REJECTED. Ah guys, back to the drawing board on this one. Let’s just have an image of the old dude playing the trumpet and “We remember prohibition” — squeeze the rest of the idea into the text above the post. Awesome.

Lynx — very tidy responsive type post you’d expect to see in social.

REJECTED. Sorry team, we can’t run with this idea. Can someone draw the text on a piece of paper, as if we have handed it to Harry? What about if we spray it on a wall with Lynx? Can we make some type out of nude bodies? OK, text status only with a picture of Harry from google… Cool, let’s go with that.

Nike — the Airmax 90 infrared is back. Another series of ads that rely on that old school look to communicate an idea and an era of fashion and style.
Nike — the Airmax 90 infrared is back. Another series of ads that rely on that old school look to communicate an idea and an era of fashion and style.

REJECTED. Erm… Right, can someone dig up some stock shots of the shoes and we will have to run with the line “The air max infrared is back” only. We might do a set of creative support posts later just with the fluro colours and a word or two, eg. pink + 1990 GREAT, but really small. It will be like a collector series… Nice.

Volvo — oversized typography assists in communicating the impact of our choices. Hey, get out there more often and explore.

REJECTED. Ah shit… OK, let’s run with the car driving down the street only, let’s plonk a capture of the google search field insitu of the creative and squeeze the text inside that so it is small enough to avoid detection. Boom.

Jim Beam — the typography is integral in communicating the creative idea.

REJECTED. OK, take all that text out and put it in a status update. Make it in capital letters so it stands out better. Then for the image, just use the bottle on it’s own with a logo, maybe retouch the boats around the bottle in the one comp. Either that or just a picture of a church. Cool.

Woolworths South Africa — nice series made impossible without creative use of type.

REJECTED. Let’s just use a photo on some women in flirty skirts and write the word “FL(SK)IRT(S)Y” in the status copy above. Yeah…

Pepsi — Refresh Everything. Obama campaign style posters an integral part of the campaign visuals

REJECTED. Ah damn… Back to the drawing board guys, can we have a shot of a Pepsi can and “One for all” in the status text? Rock and roll…

Mini — nice series that uses typography and scale as an effective supporting role in a series of designs.

REJECTED. Hey guys, we’re just over here. Strip out the bottom strap line and logo and scale the “RAIN” down so it loses impact, and the copy is on one line of small text… Done.

British government — 1939 motivational poster. Among the most highly referenced visuals of modern times.

REJECTED. What… Er, OK wow. Here’s what we have to do guys… Scale up the crown to be the key visual of the image and make “keep calm and carry on” really small at the bottom of the image, I’m sure it will resonate with people in the same way being nice and tiny with the big crown signifying strength. Do it.

Western Union — classic play on words in this thoughtful typo execution. Not an idea without typography.

REJECTED. Damn, we are just over the 20% text rule guys, strip out the client logo and scale down the type to about half that size so it looks like scale has been used to minimise the impact of the word for some reason, like the text is way off in the distance. Great.

J. M. Flagg’s 1917 poster, based on the original British Lord Kitchener poster of three years earlier, was used to recruit soldiers for both World War I and II.

REJECTED. What do you mean it doesn’t fit? OK let’s just put “I WANT YOU” under uncle Sam and in the status update let’s put “U.S. ARMY nearest recruiting station”, that should do it.

Porsche — Gorgeous typography lead ads that have no life without type.

REJECTED. Erm, let’s get an action photo of a Porsche from a LeMans race and put “Like if you think nobody is perfect if you win 9 out of 10 LeMans places in the one race" in the copy above. Sorted.

Porsche — Gorgeous typography lead ads that have no life without type.

REJECTED. Let’s run the stock shot of a kid dreaming with a Porsche logo on the image. Then put all the copy in the status update, should be just as impactful… Brilliant.

Bonus section — what about these miscellaneous typography examples?

Mini — type as a playful element of the concept.

REJECTED. Hangon a sec… Can Facebook bots/humans reject this? It’s on an angle. Oh well, let’s rip out the F, replace it with a clean slab and put the copy line on it’s own with a small F. Got it?

Steve Jobs Typography Poster by Dylan Roscover.

REJECTED. Although I’m not certain if the bots/humans would pickup on the creative arrangement of type, it lead me to seek one of the many quotes on typography from Jobs himself.

“I learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.”

Thanks for putting things into perspective, Steve.

Facebook — one of many examples of posts from various pages where typography is a core part of the design.

REJECTED. What’s that? More than 20% text from Faceook’s own marketing teams? Naughty naughty…

Facebook — one of many examples of posts from various pages where typography is a core part of the design.

REJECTED. What’s that? More than 20% text from Faceook’s own marketing teams? Naughty naughty…

The Social Network — one of countless examples of film artwork that uses bold typography as an inherent part of the marketing concept.

REJECTED. What do you mean we can’t run with the movie poster artwork??? Oh well, rip out the typography, it will have to all go in the text status above the poster… Make it all in caps, that way it will have maximum impact! Awesome.

Time — Person of the Year 2011 issue, featuring Mark Zuckerberg.

REJECTED. My calculations using the “grid tool” says our text is just over at 35% guys. We will have to take out the TIME brand mark as well as “Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg” type. We know who he is anyway… Sorted!

Is this the end of typography for advertisers on Facebook?

There are a wide variety of creative post formats that drive engagement on Facebook and typography has always played a role. Until now.

Consider this…

No more quotes, no impactful statements, no use of campaign lockups and key typography visuals, no creative wordplay in design, no print ad conversion where type is central to the idea, no engaging micro stories told in the form of typography and visual combination. All gone, thanks to the fact that promoted posts are an essential part of marketing on Facebook.

So for now it’s back to the drawing board for social media and marketing teams the world over. Best of luck…

Keep Calm and Carry On — revised for Facebook boosted post guidelines.


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