Monday, September 20, 2010

Bored? Moody? I give you: the mood board!

Tools o' the ad trade.

The secret to a great class? Magazines, glue sticks, Blu-Tak, and X-Acto Knives.

(Tip: if you teach preschool or in the 'hood, scratch the X-Acto Knives.)

It never fails. One of the best classes of the year, even better than our visit to the Pancake House, is the one we had today, in which the advertising majors and I return to a place we thought we'd left behind forever: the land of grade three arts and crafts!

I give you: the mood board

The occasion: creating mood boards for this semester's advertising client, Berns and Black Salon on Main Street.

Like this:

I know, it sounds flakier than a flaky box of flakes, but a mood board plays a useful role in advertising by functioning as a visual representation of a brand. It can be the creative springboard on which your campaign is based, or you can use it to present and sell your ideas to your client.

And clients love mood boards, because they secretly wish they were back in grade three art class too.

The mood board is a collage on a foam core board - mmmmm, foam core! It encompasses symbols, feelings, moods, relationships, textures, ideas, colors, palettes, words, brands, logos, design, architecture, celebrities, style, and whatever.

But a mood board is more than the sum of its parts.

The process of cutting, sorting, sticking, and pasting takes the creative mind on a little journey down a path of discovery that may not be apparent until the mood board is actually complete and hanging on a wall.

Then, you take a step back, let the visuals wash over you, discuss what you see with loved ones and/or co-workers, and - voila! - the ad-campaign concept, theme, and color palette all begin to gel in your head.

Or, even better, the mood board gives you the flash of creative inspiration that will ultimately become your campaign's big idea.

In today's class, we did five mood boards from five groups of students, which we formed into a giant mood board of mood boards at the front of the classroom - a giant mashup of the images you see depicted here.

As you can clearly see, they represent...wait - what do you think they represent?

Next week: it's all about the Play-Doh.


  1. Hey, a guy that teaches advertising should know about my site at We are not commercial (OK … yet) and we provide our members with a free and fair way of putting a number on how funny they are by providing and judging cartoon captions. I think every advertiser should have that number. Please consider it for your students.

  2. Kenton! Message me when the class gets to soapstone carving and latch hooking. I want in!
    In all seriousness though this is a great idea. Uber creative! Nice!


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