Create a print ad in ten minutes.

tap your right arrow key to give it a shot

What you'll need

  • Pen/sharpie
  • Lots of blank paper
  • A clean workspace
  • Hard liquor for the Don Draper creative approach

if you're ready, start the stopwatch in the upper left corner and tap your right arrow key.



Warmin' the Juice

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Three one-minute exercises to get your brain thinking.

move down to try the exercises.
move right to skip this section.

Don Draper: "We're creative - the least important, most important thing there is."

1. Touchy, Feely*

*exercise credited to copywriter June Valladares

Find an ordinary object nearby. A clothes hanger, hairbrush, shoehorn, anything. Take exactly one minute to hold it in your hands and do two things. First note its shape, size, material, color, texture and weight. Then imagine what your life would be without this item.

move down for the next exercise.

2. Brain vs. Brick

This is a brick. It can be used...

  • a hammer
  • an exercising weight
  • play live Tetris with.
  • Think of five more uses in one minute -- the crazier the idea, the better!

3. Picture this

  1. Describe this photo in 15 words or less.
  2. Now do it in 5 words or less.

move right to go to advertising basics.

The Basics of an Ad

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Now, we'll dissect an ad.

move down to check it out.
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Don Draper: "Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car."

From product to benefit

Every product on the market has a benefit. The benefit sets the product apart from competition. Simply put, a good ad says your product's benefit in a memorable way.

Some benefits have been successful for decades.

  • A Steinway piano is historic. Other brands aren't.
  • Marlboro's filters never skimp on flavor. Other filters do.
  • A Beetle is economical and hardy. Unlike other cars.

From benefit to headline

The headline is the key, well, headline in an ad. It restates the benefit in an eye-catching way.

Benefit: A Steinway piano is historic.

Headline: The Instrument of the Immortals

Benefit: Marlboro's filters never skimp on flavor.

Headline: The filter doesn't get between you and the flavor!

Benefit: A Beetle is economical and hardy.

Headline:Think Small.

that all, folks. move right to get started on your ad.

Fishing for the Right Words

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How fast can you crank out headlines?

move down to start brainstorming.
move right to skip this section.

Don Draper: "I'd have my secretary do it, but she's dead."

You've got work.

You're a copywriter at an ad agency. An absentminded higher-up forgot he had a meeting with Tabasco today. He needs a print ad in the next five minutes.

Your job: Save his sorry ass as usual.

move down to get started.

Tabasco: A Quick History

Quick, read this and write down one concrete benefit that will be the basis for your headline.

Example: Tabasco ages its mash longer.

Still Made the Same Way*

Over 140 years later, TABASCO® Sauce is made much the same way except now the aging process for the mash is longer – up to three years in white oak barrels – and the vinegar is high-quality distilled vinegar. Labeled in 22 languages and dialects, sold in over 165 countries and territories, added to soldiers’ rations and put on restaurant tables around the globe, it is the most famous, most preferred pepper sauce in the world.

*excerpted from

Explore the Benefit

Brainstorm 10 ideas related to your benefit. It can be a pun, an idiom, an understatement of the benefit, an overstatement, change the product color, make it absurd, make it stronger, make it romantic, make it practical.

Benefit: Tabasco ages its mash longer

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Ticking time bomb
  • New weapon for the army
  • With age comes wisdom
  • Ripe old age

Sharpen your Ideas

Now here's the tough part. Just twist each idea so that it's pointing towards Tabasco. This part is a hit-or-miss. If it doesn't make sense, move on to the next idea.

  • Mash da 'Basco
  • It's like a licking time bomb
  • Napalm in a bottle
  • With age comes wisdom
  • The ripe old age of 3

Congrats! You have a batch of headlines!

move right when all feels lost, or you've stumbled upon genius.

The Moment of Truth

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Choosing is hard.

move down to make your selection.

Don Draper: "You are the product. You feeling something. That's what sells."

Take a minute.

Look over your headlines. Choose one that states the benefit in a memorable way.

Print out an ad template to write your headline here.

move down once you have it.


Congratulations, you're one ad closer to working in the creative industry!

Hope you enjoyed the process.

Interactive by Charles Kong, Medill JOUR_370.