Introduction to Advertising

While studying marketing one can come across many different definitions of advertising. As a matter of fact, modern advertising characterizes wide functionality as well as diversity of form, which can only impede an interchangeable description of the subject.

Defining Advertising

In order to circumscribe the advertising more precisely, the following definition will be introduced:

Advertising is one of most important marketing tools, which is used for a non-personal communication. Its main task is to inform the viewer about upcoming novelties on the marketplace and promote certain goods, services, ideas or beliefs and in most cases, persuade potential customers to purchase or to consume a particular product. According to the Professor of Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts, San Francisco State University Arthur Asa Berger, the word “advertising” comes from a Latin word “advertere”, which means “to turn toward” and more precisely, to turn someone’s attention towards something. In his opinion, to advertise, it means, “to make known”, that is, to inform public about the goods available on the market.1

Buy me!

Apart from the informative and persuasive character, the advertisements are also seen as a creator of the new emotional necessities. Mary Cross indicates that: “Advertising is no question the language of capitalism. Its “buy me” message on everything from the designer jeans to billboards bombards the average American more than 1500 times a day. No one who watches television, listens to a radio, drives a car down a highway, shops the mall, or reads a magazine or newspaper can ignore this language of the marketplace, where words of one syllable pitch promise in sound bites of desire: ‘Just do it’, ‘This Bud’s for you’, ‘Where’s the beef?’”.2  In other words, the modern advertising became an indispensable element of human culture worldwide, it not only reflecting but also shaping our environmental perception and human behaviors. Actively participating in people’s everyday life, advertising informs, teaches, warns and entertains.

There are many different types of traditional advertisements ranging from online ads, print advertisement, to TV commercials or radio adverts. The medium must successfully communicate a message to the specific target audience, as well as influence the receiver’s to consumption. Professor Asa Berger also states: “I believe that the advertising is a very powerful force, one that plays a major role in the economy (it has replaced Puritanism in motivating people to work hard so that they can earn money and be able to buy things) and, increasingly in recent years, the political sphere. Advertising has the power, I believe, to influence and, in some cases, shape people’s behavior, broadly speaking.”3

Selling a Lifestyle

The advertising does not only communicate the information about the product or service, it also represents the brand, encourages certain beliefs and offers a particular lifestyle. According to Naomi Klein, in order to effectively sell goods, the brand must promote some particular style of life, not just an item. For instance, Nike or Adidas do not only sell the shoes, they sell a magic of sports and freedom, Levi’s or Lee does not provide clothing, but a set of values. The advertising did not become successful because of its informative character; the advertising became such a powerful force because it sells the way of life, important values and emotions. The aggressive advertising campaign, which already started in mid 90’s, guaranteed brands such as Nike, Levi’s, Microsoft or Coca-Cola leader position among other providers on the American marketplace. Phil Knight, who is the Nike CEO in US, says: “For years we thought of ourselves as a production oriented company, meaning we put all our emphasis on designing and manufacturing the product. But now we understand that the most important thing we do is market the product. We’ve come around to saying that Nike is a marketing-oriented company, and the product is our most important marketing tool”.4 The advertising became phenomena of the modern mass communication, without which the brand prevalence would have been nearly impossible.

1 Berger, Asa A. Ads, Fads, and Consumer Culture. Advertising’s Impact on American Character and Society. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2007. p. 1
2 Cross, Mary. Advertising and culture. Theoretical Perspectives; Reading Television Texts: The Postmodern Language of Advertising. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data.1996 . p.1
3 Berger, Asa A. Ads, Fads, and Consumer Culture. Advertising’s Impact on American Character and Society. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2007. p.4
4 Klein, Naomi. No Logo. Harper Perennial, London, 2005. p. 22