Advertising is a powerful communication force and a vital marketing tool-helping to sell goods, services, images, and ideas (or ideals) through channels of information and persuasion.
1. Advertising Distinguished From Publicity
The function of advertising can be viewed in two basic ways: as a tool of marketing and as a means of communication. Advertising is any paid form of non personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods, and services by an identified sponsor When products or services are mentioned favourably in the media newspapers, magazines, radio, or television–the item appears because it is presumed to provide information or entertainment for the audience. This is publicity, and on payment is made by the benefited organization. Advertising, on the other hand, is published or broadcast because the advertiser has purchased time or space to give out his message
Personal selling takes place when a personal face-to-face presentation is made. Although advertising compleme ts, or may substitute for, personal selling, it is done in a nonpersonal manner through intermediaries or media
Advertising is concerned with much more than the romotion of tangible goods. Although most advertising is designed to help sell goods And services, it is being used increasingly to further public interest goods. Advertising discloses or identifies the source of the opinions and ideas it presents. To do otherwise would be a wasteful expense
To the media that deliver these messages and to the men and women who create and produce them, they are advertisements just as much as are messages designed to increase the sale of any product. The advertiser is engaging in a highly important function of advertising namely that of informing prospective buyers and users of the availability of his product. Advertising, which provides the communication link between someone with something to sell and someone who needs something, is often just that simple: the advertiser is providing information to persons who are seeking it. Surely advertising is the most efficient means of reaching people with product information. Clyde R. Miller points out that “all successes in business, in industrial production, in invention, in religious propaganda, in education, and in politics depend upon the process of persuasion.
In modern markets, the producer who is content with advertising that merely identifies or informs may soon find himself in a vulnerable competitive position. Moreover, the creator of advertising-unlike the reporter, editor, or commentator–needs to remember that his or her creative effort must do more than merely inform or entertain. It must change or reinforce an attitude or behaviour. And the consumer–the “man in the street” should always be aware of the advertiser’s persuasive intent, no matter how restrained and informative the message may be. Advertising is thus a controlled, identifiable information and persuasion by means of mass communications media: The’ content, time, and direction of an advertising message are controlled by the advertiser. The advertiser says what he wants to say-no more and no less. And by careful selection of the medium that delivers the message, it is directed to the people whom he wants to receive it. The same cannot be said of personal selling, as almost any sales inanager or retail proprietor can verify. The sales person may tell only part of the story, and may
not tell part clearly or effectively. The message may be wasted on the wrong people or not be delivered at the most advantageous
time. The word “controlled” distinguishes advertising from publicity. The advertiser cannot control the content, time, or direction publicity. The story may not be presented as desired, at the time chosen, or to the people selected to be reached. In fact, much publicity material is never presented at all. When the advertiser contracts for advertising space or time, on the other .” hand, definite results can be expected. The message will be published in the way it was prepared-In the same words and the same j.ict ire and it will be delivered to the specific audience or group served by the rnediurn, it will be of a certain size or length, and it will appear at a certain time. The receiver of the advertising message is able to identify both source and purpose. The source is responsible for the message, and reorganizes–that its purpose is to persuade the receiver to accept the ideas or opinions it presents. Publicity (11′ propaganda may not offer these aids to evaluating the message.
Basically there are only two mechanisms of mass . communications, and they were developed 500 years apart.
The first is the printing press, or more accurately the process of printing from movable types. With this innovation in the fifteenth century it was possible for the first time to produce with speed and economy many copies of the same message. Today by way of the printing press in its modern variations, newspapers, magazines, outdoor posters, direct-mail material, and store displays deliver messages to thousands or millions of people at the same time.
The second basic mechanism of mass communications is the electronic transmitter-the radio or television station-which, as we know, did not appear until the first part of the twentieth century, and it made available a means of broadcasting messages simultaneously to many people, even to those who could not read, Radio, of course makes its impression only through sound;
television combines sight with sound
Many other less conspicuous methods of delivering advertising messages exist to service specialized needs of advertisers. These will be discussed later, but most modern advertising is delivered through newspapers, magazines, radio, direct mail, and television.
2. Social Effects of Advertising: Advertising touches our lives in four significant ways: (1) through its persuasive abilities, (2) because of its truthfulness or untruthfulness, (3) through its tastefulness or tastelessness, and (4) by its cultural impact on our values and life-styles. Thus, we now consider its social effects– taste’ in advertising and cultural impact
Good Taste V’s Bad Taste: What constitutes good taste as contrasted with bad taste is a matter of individual perception. Each individual ends up exercising a personal opinion; sometimes an effort is made to project that opinion over the behavior of other individuals. In a sense, this is similar to the criticisms that “advertising makes people want things they shouldn’t have.” There is no law or universal guideline regarding good and bad taste.
In determining which advertising is in good taste and which falls to meet the test, the primary concern is the manner in which the advertising is done rather than its content matter. Involved are those ethical, moral, and aesthetic considerations regarding the manner in which advertising is handled. Advertising can be classified as of questionable taste on four principal scores:
1. Moral co cern over the product itself: products such as liquor, cigarettes, contraceptives, and feminine hygiene sprays.
2. Inappropriate time or context for the message exposure: laxative advertising at the dinner hour; lingerie ads. on early-evening TV.
3. Use of objectionable appeals, such as feat or sex.
4. Use of objectionable techniques: excessive repetition of messages, loud volume, silliness of presentation.
Concern over Product: IT a person objects to a product itself, it is natural that its advertising will be deemed objectionable and will suffer as a consequence. Advertising is just the most visible part of the total product entity. Rationally, objection to the product should be distinguished from objection to its advertisement. The banning of cigarette advertising from the broadcast media illustrates this dilemma. The product has legal sanction; it is subject to special taxation. Logically its processors should have the right to promote it on television and radio. IT cigarett .s are believed to be truly harmful to people, they should be banned from sale in interstate commerce. Certainly it is Inconsistent to permit their advertising in forms of media other tlian broadcast. Moral judgments over the use of specific products need to be universally held before the advertising of them should be outlawed and the sounder approach is to ban the sale of such products
Message Timing and Context: Certainly the poor timing of advertising for an otherwise acceptable product may show a lack of taste on the part of the advertiser, as in the case of the laxative advertisement at dinner-time. Of course, one might counter that dining and watching television simultaneously is also in bad taste. The clutter of advertising messages on television can be irritating to the viewer. Heavy concentration of advertisements in other media, such as pre-Christmas issues of magazine and newspapers, is tolerated much more readily by the typical consumer. True, one can flip by ads. in newspapers and magazines easier than one can avoid advertising on television. However, in the welter of messages, some may be relevant to part of the audience, and communication value is received by these persons.
What messages, if any, should be allowed at times when children listen heavily to television, such as Saturday mornings, is a . highly debated question and still is in the process of being_resolved.
3. Objectionable Appeals of Advertisements: Opinions on matters of sex are subjective to the utmost degree. Although no advertiser knowingly will use sex appeal in a manner which will offend the majority of the target audience, there is no doubt that such appeals do create interest in advertising messages. “It is not always so much what is in ihe ad. as what the viewer brings to it.” What is deemed to be sexy by one person may be bland to another, and we all recognize that the standards of what is socially acceptable are subject to rapid change in society
Insofar as the appeal to fear is concerned, this approach has been used to sell products which are of little interest to consumers when so-called rational appeals are employed. Even in cases where the product fulfils a generally recognized need, such . as in the case of life insurance, fear appeals are needed to sell policies. However, appeals to fear, such as in the case of the cancer hazard in. cigarette smoking, are often rejected by receivers of such messages. A more questionable use of the fear appe..~.lIS over body odors and the possible effect such odors may have on one’s social acceptance. The end result is a fresher-smelling society, but is the advertising in bad taste? Once again, the answer is a subjective one
Some people object to the appeals being made in advertisements on the grounds that they are too simple-minded, that “they insult, a person’s intelligence.” Part of this criticism is based on the fact that many messages are meant for the mass market and thus are run in the mass media, which, in turn, do include persons in the audience not in the target market for the advertised product. To these people, the messages may seem inane. This is one of the difficult problems that advertisers face
4. Objectionable Techniques: Techniques of advertising such as repetition of message, use of high volume, or the I>mnlnvment of unpleasant’ people. voices, or music are all part of the intrusive nature of advertising, especially the television medium. These techniques are used to attract the attention of the audience under circumstances in which such attention may be difficult to obtain. In other words, it is claimed by some advertising people that these tactics are unavoidable if advertising is to carry out its function of communicating with target audiences. On the other hand, others firmly believe that their use is a reflection of the bankruptcy of creativity on the part of the advertising community and would not be needed if more time and thought. were devoted to advertising message development. However, advertisers spend money and time on testing alternative advertising techniques and would abandon any that resulted in decreased brand sales. And for experience goods, the very fact of advertising is the important point, not the content of the advertising message. There is no doubt that some advertising irritates some people, but clearly not most people, or the technique would be found unproductive and would be discontinued. Furthermore, extreme use of such techniques can be counter productive; for example, the use of excessive repetition
can lead to a backlash, a sort of protest, even to the point of consumer rejection of the product featured 80 frequently.
A basic problem is that different people have different standards. At least three problems are present when detennining the line between good taste and bad taste in advertising:
1. Ethics, morals, and aesthetics-or general standards of behaviour, specific standards of behaviour, and artistic standards– are problems involving rnorles and philosophy that may often differ widely in a country’s heterogeneous population 2. Whatever the standards of taste (or tastefulness) are, they change over time 3. There are semantic problems with the variable called taste.
Furthermore, one can argue that the presence of garish, loud advertising is a cost of afiluence. Consumers have a scarcity . of time, and they seek fast, cheap information about products. In providing that need, advertisers on occasion may overstep the boundaries of good taste, at least in the view of the. more sensitive members of the population
5. The Ethical Problems Reviewed: Somewhat apart from the economic problem, which has been discussed at length in one of the earlier chapters and which constitutes the chief objective of advertising there are certain ethical problems with respect to advertising. To.what standards of conduct, either as written into statutes or expressed in the conventions and codes of the busineas. community, should advertising be expected to conform? Now far does it so conform?
Advertising is forced to change in order to meet changing ethical concepts, and these changes in advertising have a bearing on its economic results. Nevertheless a separate treatment of the two kinds of problems is amply justified. The kinds of advertising claims which may not be inappropriate to the taste of one generation may offend the ethical sensibilities of a succeeding generation; such changing influences are traceable in the history of advertising in many countries. Thus the ethical standards for advertising, in common with other ethical standards, change as the yiews of the community change. On the other hand, the science of economics concerns itself with cause and effect in the economic realm.. It is not concerned with the desirability or undesirability of particular ends and objectives. The logic of this cause and effect does not change. Thus economic problems and ethical problems, although not devoid of inter-connection, need to be approached with different assumptions.
Ethical problems of advertising do not make any influence _ or persuasion in dealing; between buyers and sellers. As in the case of Borne of the economic criticisms of advertising, denial of the property of persuasion in economic affairs resolves itself at bottom into a profound ideological cleavage. What significance can be attached to the designation of a society as “free” if there . no freedom to exercise persuasion in the relationship between . and Persuasion an¥’. counter-persuasion ate . exereised freely· from pulpit, press,: rostrum, . classroom, and government agencies for information.. If the use of persuasion were to be forbidden in economic relations, practically all semblance of free society would vanish
The really significant ethical problem in regard to advertising, therefore, is not whether persuasion should be exercised but how it should be exercised. In other words’, what are the ethics ofinfluence in economic relationships? Not only do such ethical standards change from ,t.ime to time as suggested above, “but they are also pragmatic in another ‘Sense. Codes of ethics and ethical standards are by no means uniform for all professions or all oeeupations at the same tim~~;-THey”differaccording to what is appropriate to the circumstances. -The ethical standards which govern a judge on the bench are’:vaStly different from those which are appropriate to the prosecutor and the attorney for the defence. . For a judge to fail to be impartial, would be highly unethical, but for an advocate before the bar to present only one side of the case is in not unethical.
The ethical problems which are appropriate for the study of advertising, therefore, are the ethics of the use of influence in competitive commercial relations. What changes are taking place
in these standards of advertising conduct? How rapidly are they , being written into statutory law? Is the law moving sufficiently fast to keep pace with the ethical sense of the business community? What are the effects of those standards of advertising conduct which are not yet embodied in law but have erystalieed in certain conventions, in business codes, and in the activities of particular extra-legal organisations, such and a Business Bureaus? What do consumers think about advertising? Businessmen themselves are now sufficiently aware of changing standards of good taste with ciently aware of changing standards of good taste with respect to advertising.
6. Benefits of Sound Advertising: Where advertising has ~led the manufacturer, the fault is either in the goods or in the advertising. if it is in the goods, then no better results could have been obtained without advertising. if it lies with the advertising, it will be the method, not the principle, that is wrong. That the ‘retailer benefits from handling advertised’ goods may be deduced , from the fact that in most progressive shops it is the branded and advertised products that are given the most consistent and prominent window and counter di8pI~~j.’ The retailer wants members of the public to know that he s~~ the goods for which they are looking that he will sell them the ‘genuine article and not attempt to press some unknown imitation upon them. He wishes to establish goodwill with his prospective customer, and by selling and displaying advertised goods he is, in effect basking in the reflected glory of the advertiser’s established reputation
It will be seen, then, that from the viewpoint of manufacturer, retailer and consumer the cost of advertising is entirely justified by the fact that it is outbalanced by other considerations. Rarely does advertising increase the cost of a product to the consumer, and even whenit does, thil increased cost is, usually, only, temporary. The mere process of branding and advertising goods enables the manufacturer better to meet the competition of cheaper and inferior products. John Ruskin , said that ”There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey.”
Advertising aims at teaching the public to consider other things than price only, and helps to, keep the worse and cheaper article off the market-to the ultimate benefit of industry as a whole.
Finally, it has been said that the chief function of advertising is to make known goods for sale. In order to sell, it is essential to “make known.” III order to sell economically, it is necessary to make known by the least costly method. Perhaps, then, the real economic justification of advertising, its wholeraison d’etre, the entire purpose for the existence of advertising at all, is in the fact that it is the least expensive recognized method of making known.
Advertising is costly. But not to advertise is often costlier.
7. Social Impact of Comme~cial Television: In various parts of the world there are different iways of providing television space out of the revenue supplied by advertisers (as distinct-from the BBC method of providing television out of viewers’ licensing fees). In Pakistan as in the USA, sponsoring is common, .although the cost of producing programmes, is met by the sponsor companies. Expenses are also incurred on spot advertisements. hi Nigeria, there is a very interesting mixture. Advertisers buy air time as in Britain and short commercial films or slides are transmitted
In a magazine programme, BOrneitems may be regarded as information or educative (and no charge is made), but if the item is about a new product a charge is made for the interview. Big advertisers like Wills or Coca-Cola may sponsor give-away or sports programmes. In 1981 the United Bank for Africa, which advances money so that farmers may introduce improvements, attracted audiences with a twice-weekly half-hour drama series about rural life. The sponsored show was called The Cock Crows At Dawn, and showed urban dwellers how 80 per cent of Nigeria’s population live and work. In Indonesia, national-language TV conunercials are limited to two periods, and are interspersed with top pop records to attract viewers. In Malaysia, all TV commercials must be made there
In Britain commercial television was f11’8tlaunched in 1955 as a result of the Television Act which was produced in consultation with the IPA and ISBA representing the agencies and the advertisers. Thus a second channel was provided, the BBC having transmitted TV programmes since the 30s with the exception of the war years. Commercial television therefore came about as an alternative channel, but with stringent legal requirements who was to produce programmes and the kind of advertising that was to appear. Parliament was anxious not to have in Britain the American style of television which so many people deplore Breakfast time. TV starts in May 1963. Now that commercial television has become a major advertising medium it is possible to an,alyse its merits and deficiencies
Some critics object to television advertising 88 such, disliking the breaks in programmes (especially films and drama) which they would not otherwise suffer in a theatre or cinema. They also object to the repetitiveness of some of the advertising and to the persistence of the appeals. These criticisms can be ~answered as follows
1. Without the commercials there would be no other channels providing an alternative choice of programmes. This extra choice of viewing is not paid for out of licence fees even though it is illegal to watch the commercial channels without having paid the licence fee.
2. Where the control system is explained in the law pertaining to the Independent Television Companies Association, there is very strict control over what is shown. Scripts and storyboards are vetted at an early stage-before filming-and many commercials are checked at the double-head stage before sound and vision are integrated. Above all commercials are viewed for approval by the authorities in different countries prior to transmission.
3. The medium is one of popular entertainment and information. Products advertised, especially in the peak viewing hours of midevening are bound to be those which are likely to be bought by the mass public, particularly housewives. This tends to reduce the number of products or services suitable for TV advertising, and to concentrate the medium on those products or services (e.g. repeat purchase small unit items) which either require or justify frequent presentation. Production of commercials is costly, and not every advertiser will be justified in making more than one film. Moreover, much depends on the geographical location of the viewer and the extent to which he is watching the commercials of local or national advertisers. In the London area, very few local advertisers use the medium whereas the reverse is the case in the regions. Obviously. the larger advertiser will invest in more sophisticated commercials than the local firm with more limit.ed l”C~OW·CCR.
8. Characteristics of the Medium
1. It is a regional medium. Commercial TV is not a national media like the morning newspapers. There are programme contractors who sell air time in their regions. To use the entire network-not unlike using all the evening newspapers published in Britain-would be prohibitive for all but the biggest advertisers, and even some of those omit certain channels such as Ulster or Channel Islands. But it is a flexible medium so that one can advertise where one wishes and still reach the mass audience in that area. Some advertisers launch a product in one are and gradually add areas 8S sales develop. In a similar way, TV is excellent for test marketing since the media for a larger campaign can be simulated in one TV region
No other medium enjoys this special distinction of regionalism. A regional newspaper has neither the penetration nor the visual sound and colour qualities of TV, and British commercial radio is more local without having the visual impact.
2. It is a home and family medium. The sales message and the product or service demonstration or presentation .is transmitted to the home and seen simultaneously by those watching. Again, there is great pentration of the market
3.. Viewing is effortless. Unlike the situation with most other media, the only effort the viewer has to make is to stay awake or keep his or her eyes open. Other than the cinema, and perhaps cards in the interiors of public transport, most other media require effort which one may decline to make or be distracted from. Because the TV ads. are screened during the breaks of only two minutes it is hardly worth making the effort to resist them.
4. There is movement. Only the cinema can compete, but with diminishing cinema audiences movement becomes a major distinction of TV advertising. This means that the product or service can be given the realism which makes desire to purchase
more readily achieved. The aircraft acquires a beauty not apparent when flying high above in the sky, or static in other forms of advertising. The expression on the child’s face signifies that the foodstuff has a delicious taste. Her teeth really do look sparkling white. That kitchen does look superb, whether cleaned, decorated or fitted out