Saturday, November 21, 2009

Just Advertise It!

I counted over 200 advertisements on my 30km drive to work daily. Mostly billboards, banners and even on some products in my car. Having the radio on, I listen to another 20 or more advertisements within 30 minutes before turning off the noise. Imagine within that 40 minutes early morning drive, my mind is bombarded with more advertisement count than what would be the calories from my breakfast. It's really that serious how advertisements are affecting our psychological well-being daily - and there's no way we can avoid them.

Advertisements in all it's various forms are used to inform, build brands, promote, motivate or induce people to make certain decisions in life. Most of the time however, the advertisements we encounter today are simply to promote sales. And here it looks like to promote sales at whatever cost. Now, I don't mean advertising agencies are cashing in lucrative paychecks (albeit it's a $300billion industry) - but rather (it seems), they are forced to be competitive to generate the imaginary returns (ROI). If i'm going to be spending on an advertising campaign, let's make sure the ROI is enormous - and you can achieve this either through some award winning creative advertisement or make up something that sells! Just sell!

With such motive and exposure, it's just pure dangerous if advertisements are not governed or monitored by the right regulators and watchdog groups. My intention is NOT to demean or join the "complain-and-ban-all-adverts" bandwagon, but rather to illustrate the potential dangers of advertisement when let loose (too loose). When you have so many negative perceptions on advertisements (or "alert consumers"), it means people are becoming defensive towards advertisements, and advertising agencies are forced to get even more creative, and it a vicious cycle.

Ad agencies use more scare tactic (you'll miss out on the best deals today...that seems to lasts everyday), irrelevant contexts (cooking gas that makes your food taste better), sensual/sexual content (almost every other ads), and other means to manipulate and confuse consumers. Also, the misuse of standard, especially on quality, for example;
  • I once purchase a pack of so-called "high quality envelopes" that would work better as a tracing paper. It also had innacurate sizes all across (perhaps hand folder) and you could never send a cheque with it - disposed as recycled paper!
  • "High quality automobile" that earned the saying, "if there's no problem with the car, it's probably an imitation product".
(In countries where return policy seems to protect sellers more than buyers, false or misleading advertisements can cause serious harm or losses for consumers)

So what all these about? Advertising is any impersonal form of communication about the ideas, goods, or services that is paid for by an identified sponsor. Advertisements has evolved and became a new mode of communication. The fact that it can be so important and effective in marketing communication strategy, and practically lives and grows up with us, requires the use of professionalism and ethics in creating an advertisment/advertising campaign. Marketing is about defining and understanding customer's needs effectively - this should be the credo for any advertising campaigns/agencies. Creativity wins awards, but unique selling proposition sells!

Suggested reading:
  • Differentiate of Die, Survival in Our Era of Killer Competition by Jack Trout with Steve Rivkin - look at Unique selling proposition(USP)!!!
  • In Search of the Obvious by Jack Trout
  • The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR by Al Ries and Laura Ries
  • The Portable MBA in Marketing by Alexander Hiam and Charles D. Schewe

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