Advertisement Secret 2 : Miss Me? Create Desire through advertisement using the Power of Absence

Mofrad Muntasir
8 min readJul 7, 2021

You never know the value of what you have until you lose it

Have you ever lost something, and then started dreading that ‘my life would be really bad without it’? Have you ever understood that something was way more important than you ever considered it to be after you had lost it?

If you have, you probably also know that you weren’t the only person to feel that way.

Because sometimes, some of us fail to appreciate the value of something we have, until it becomes something we had. We begin to realize that particular thing’s true value only after it stops being part of our lives.

But what if we had the chance to get that thing back? Wouldn’t we act immediately to make that happen? Wouldn’t we start seeing that item in a completely different light? Most of us probably would; because our earlier loss would’ve created an irresistible desire for that item.

And that is exactly the effect marketers try to achieve through one particular advertising trick.

In my analysis to find the “11 Advertising tricks that make good print ads great”, I have stumbled upon a few ads which show how marketers try to achieve the effect mentioned above. I have also realized that though these ads are sometimes a bit difficult to comprehend, they are still one of the most potent in stamping a message on consumers’ minds. That is because the readers take slightly more time to process the message of these ads than they take for any other ad. So the additional time the readers spend allows these ads to install their messages more firmly in the readers’ minds.

The advertising trick in question here, like the first one, focuses on the benefit the advertised product is supposed to deliver. But that is where their similarities end, as these types of ads use the benefit in a very different way:

Method 2. The Effect of the Absence of the Benefit

Visual is the key, but Copy is very important as well as modality:

  1. Identify what the product’s core offering is
  2. Think of a situation that would be affected if the core offering was unavailable
  3. Describe the situation with visuals, and often by connecting it with a commonly known scenario
  4. Use copy( ad description/tagline) to connect the reader’s understanding of the visual with the product

This trick is developed on one simple word, Absence. Instead of showing what the product can do, these types of ads show what would happen if that product was missing. Or in other words, the marketers present a scenario that needs the product’s core benefit, and then they make that scenario incomplete by removing that benefit from it. As a result, the readers start to understand the importance of that benefit and thus begin to want the product. To make sure the readers understand and associate with the scenario, marketers often use commonly known/dreaded situations as visuals; the scenarios with which the readers are already familiar.

Such methods won’t have the same profound impact a real-life incident would. And marketers know that too. That is why they often try to make these ads a bit more interesting by adding humor to them. Because though these marketers might become successful in inducing the desire which is created by absence, they know that it isn’t possible to totally replicate the magnetic effect of absence; and thus keeping the readers hooked becomes a tough job. So, to use something which might keep the readers interested, they often resort to adding humor.

Let’s see an example to understand how this trick really works:

Image: Ad of

In this ad of, the marketer is highlighting the importance of safe sex (use of condoms). The benefit the company is trying to promote here is the protection the product provides. However, instead of showing the effect of that protection, the marketer is showing how stupid it is to not use protection when it is necessary. The readers can easily connect with the situation shown here; which shows a SWAT team in action. All the members of the team are fully equipped with the necessary protective gear, except ONE. The readers can easily predict what will happen if a SWAT team member goes into an ambush like this, and with the help of the tagline, can connect their understanding with the product.

The Elements of the Ad:

It is essential in such ads that the visual is strong enough to attract the readers. As these ads often require the readers to go through the entire copy before making the connection between the visual and the product, marketers must use a visual which is attractive enough to hook the readers and entice them to read the copy, before their attention moves on something else.

The ads made using this trick/pattern always have the following elements. So, it’s safe to assume that they are the must-have elements of such ads:

  • visual has to be interesting enough to attract the readers
  • The visual also must have a connection with a scenario with which the readers can easily connect. The easier it is for the readers to understand what the visual means, the simpler it will become to connect the visuals with the product.
  • CopyTwo types of copies can be used; one that connects the visual with the product and the other (optional) that describes the visual. If the visual is easily comprehensible, the second copy isn’t required.
  • Product LogoProduct logo and name is a must-have, like any other advertisement out there.

In addition, there are a few more optional techniques that can make the ads better:

  1. Minimalistic Ad: it’s better if the number of elements in the ad can be kept to a minimum. The marketer’s plan here is to make the readers see the visual, read the copy, and make the connection between the visual and the product. So having unnecessary elements might shift the reader’s focus to something that is not part of the plan.
  2. Use of Humor: If the ad is light-hearted in nature, it works better in keeping the readers hooked. This is particularly important if the copy/ description of the ad is larger than usual.

Best if used by: Most products and services can use this trick. It works best in two scenarios though; first one is when the benefit is portrayed as a desired and important one. And the second one is when the targeted consumer has a latent need for the product, but isn’t quite aware of it.

More Examples:

Let’s retrace the steps of this method by analyzing the following ads. .

‘Reading For Life’ campaign that was initiated by the Government Public Relations Department.
; Credits: Creative Juice G1, Creative Director : THIRASAK THANAPATHANAKUL, RATHARONG SRILERT, Art Director : KAN SRIJIRAPON, LAAK ALAMSRI, Copywriter : SYAMOL SILKUL Photographer : New Brain Productions

  1. Identify what the product’s core offering is: Improvement of Brain Power
  2. Think of a situation which would be affected if the core offering was unavailable: A person, because of his foolishness, is shown to be doing something which will lead to his own doom. In the image, it’s shown that a person is cutting through the very branch of a tree he is sitting on and is definitely going to fall down and hurt himself once the job is done.
  3. Describe the situation with the visuals, and often by connecting with a commonly known scenario: Readers know that when the branch will be cut, the person will fall down and hurt himself. So even if the image doesn’t show what will happen next, the readers can assume what’s coming next.
  4. Use copy to connect the reader’s understanding of the visual with the product: The readers understand that the user will hurt himself because of his own action and foolishness. So when the see the copy, which is offering a way out of this sort of foolishness, they can make the connection between their understandings and the product (service).

Even Mouthwash: Rollercoaster Advertising Agency: RGA Comunicação, Recife, Brazil, Creative Director: Daniel Zago, Art Directors: Olivia Nowak, Copywriters: Daniel Zago, Ricardo Zaclis, Typographer: Olivia Nowak, Photographer: Sven Schrader

  1. Identify what the product’s core offering is: Solution for Bad Breath
  2. Think of a situation which would be affected if the core offering was unavailable: “The absence of the offering” means the bad breath of the person will still be there to haunt people who are staying close to that person. Here a roller coaster ride was shown as the situation which might amplify the negative effect of bad breath.
  3. Describe the situation with the visuals, and often by connecting with a commonly known scenario: Readers know that bad breath is going to create quite an effect when a person is talking, or even worse, shouting. And in a roller coaster, people generally keeps shouting the whole time. So, if a person has very poor breath, getting in a roller coaster with him/her might not be a very good idea.
  4. Use copy to connect the reader’s understanding of the visual with the product: The copy , “against bad breath”, smartly connects this understanding of the readers with the product- a mouthwash.

IKEA Bookcase Advertising Agency:Tbwa,Istanbul, Turkey, Executive Creative Director:Ilkay Gurpinar, Creative Director:Volkan Karakasoglu, Copywriter:Gul Kanik, Art Director:Guney Soykan, Photographer:Murat Bayindir, Illustrator:Artun Cicekci, Account Supervisor:Melis Inceer, Advertisers Supervisor:Ozge Kocaoglu, Account Manager:Ayse Senunver, Burcu Ozdemir, Planner:Tugyan Celik, Toygun Yilmazer

  1. Identify what the product’s core offering is: A furniture to keep books on
  2. Think of a situation which would be incomplete if the core offering was unavailable: In this case, it is shown that a person has a lot of books but doesn’t have any shelf to keep them on.
  3. Describe the situation with the visuals, and often by connecting with a commonly known scenario: Instead of getting a book-case, the person has organized the books in the shape of a book-case. However, the reader knows from experience that a book-case made of books won’t be able to hold its weight for long. It will also be impossible for anyone to get the books out without jeopardizing the structure. So, the readers understand that it might be possible to organize books in a structure which might look like a book-case, but that structure would never be able to replace the functionality of a real one.
  4. Use copy to connect the reader’s understanding of the visual with the product: The copy, “Need a Bookcase?” connects that understanding directly with the book-case maker, IKEA.

The advertising trick explained in this part can be used together with any of the other 10 tricks (which is going to become clear once the entire series becomes published). For example, this method can be strengthened if used with Trick 01.

I have written similar how-to guides using other advertising tricks. To read other advertising secrets and how-to guides, visit the following link:




Mofrad Muntasir

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