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Print advertising: White space


  • Olsen, G. Douglas
  • Pracejus, John W.
  • O'Guinn, Thomas C.


A survey of North American ad agency creative directors (n=31) reveals that they use the “white space” executional format in print ads mainly to advertise new brands of products rather than services. Their not necessarily mutually exclusive reasons for designing a predominantly white-space ad are (1) artistic – the ad “looks good,” (2) to increase attention to the ad overall, (3) to focus attention on the product and the brand name, and (4) to convey brand prestige. None of the creative directors reported that their clients follow Ambler and Hollier's (2004) theory of deliberately using white-space ads to signal an extravagant budget and therefore a superior quality product. To the contrary, almost half of the clients were reportedly concerned about “paying for wasted space” in agreeing to run a white-space ad.

Suggested Citation

  • Olsen, G. Douglas & Pracejus, John W. & O'Guinn, Thomas C., 2012. "Print advertising: White space," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 65(6), pages 855-860.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbrese:v:65:y:2012:i:6:p:855-860
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2011.01.007

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kirmani, Amna, 1990. " The Effect of Perceived Advertising Costs on Brand Perceptions," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 160-171, September.
    2. Kover, Arthur J, 1995. " Copywriters' Implicit Theories of Communication: An Exploration," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(4), pages 596-611, March.
    3. John W. Pracejus & G. Douglas Olsen & Thomas C. O'Guinn, 2006. "How Nothing Became Something: White Space, Rhetoric, History, and Meaning," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(1), pages 82-90, June.
    4. Edell, Julie E & Staelin, Richard, 1983. " The Information Processing of Pictures in Print Advertisements," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(1), pages 45-61, June.
    5. Ambler, Tim & Hollier, E. Ann, 2004. "The Waste in Advertising Is the Part That Works," Journal of Advertising Research, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(04), pages 375-389, December.
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