Sunday, August 30, 2009

Advertising in all its forms

OK, a bit more scut work and I think the mundane laying of the foundation for this blog will be completed.

There are many, many forms of advertising. Here are some of the most common: advocacy, comparative, cooperative, educational, goodwill, informational, institutional, persuasive, placement (movies/TV shows), product, purpose, reminder, point-of-purchase and specialty.

Can I cover all of them here? It is my hope that I will find examples from each that impress me, or make me cringe. The discussion could be fun.

The delivery vehicles are also important to address. Why? Some products, services or objectives of advertising simply cannot be achieved with or without certain media in the mix. If “words can not adequately describe it,” or, “you have to see it to believe it,” are expressed, then is it suitable for radio? Are opportunities to significantly improve ROI missed due to an inadequate or inappropriate media mix? Hmmm. Will I know it when I see it? Double hmmm.

In today’s society, the types of media are almost too numerous to list, so I’m only going to mention the most common ones here: television, radio, print, direct mail, outdoor (this bucket includes everything, from billboards to retail signs to static transit ads and the rapidly emerging out-of-home digital screens) web, and telephone (landline and mobile with screens). Did I miss any?

You already know I love television advertising; will I delve into the others? You betcha. I dig radio! Sometimes even moreso than TV. It engages the theater of mind, inviting the listener to create the scene in his or her head. It’s magic when it works.

Admittedly, I haven’t paid as much attention to print ads as I used to, primarily because I’m not exposed to them. I receive three sports magazines in the mail: one weekly and the others monthly, and a university alumni publication each quarter. That’s it. Did you notice I don’t have a newspaper subscription? Am I atypical? You tell me: how many print publications do you receive or read each week? How many are monthly?

Web ads. I’m going to make a concerted effort to be aware of my online behavior with regards to banners, interstitials and other forms of advertising deployed on web sites. There is a lot of great work being done online. I’m confident this medium is in its infancy and the potential for innovative and creative advertising is yet to be completely comprehended. Some of us may find ourselves right in the thick of it, intimately involved in the evolution. How cool would that be?

I feel like this post has meandered. Has it? Here’s what I meant to convey:

=> there are many forms of advertising; I expect to discuss most

=> there are many delivery vehicles; not all are appropriate for some messages, products, services or audiences and I’ll consider this when discussing some campaigns

=> the web is a new frontier, we probably have yet to comprehend its potential and I don’t know what I don’t know so let’s explore and learn together

Now for a strong finish. Here’s another television ad that still makes me giggle.

What an excellent script:

Boy Friday: Is that your new Sprint Phone?

The Man: Uh-huh. With Sprint’s new Fair and Flexible plans, no one can tell me what to do. I can talk when and how I want. It’s my little way of sticking it to the man.

Boy Friday: But, you are the man.

The Man: I know.

Boy Friday: So you’re sticking it to yourself.

The Man: (slight pause) Maybe.

That’s it - very crisp and economical, and flawlessly delivered by the talent.

Can you believe this ran in 2005? The commercial still seems fresh to me. That’s staying power.

Monday, August 17, 2009

How do you define advertising?

Advertising has been around since the beginning of time. Archaeologists have found many paintings in diverse cultures around the world that clearly announced an event or pointed to trade/the opportunity to acquire goods. I think that’s pretty cool. Even in pre-historic times, folks were trying to influence behavior through published messages. I wonder how the owners of the walls or rocks charged for the use of their medium.

To help frame the discussion in this blog, I want to answer the question, "What constitutes advertising?" I'll start this short discussion by presenting some definitions:

  • Main Entry: ad·ver·tis·ing
  • Function: noun
  • Date: 1751

1 : the action of calling something to the attention of the public especially by paid announcements
: advertisements {the magazine contains much advertising}

3 : the business of preparing advertisements for publication or broadcast

Jeez. Is that it? Can advertising be adequately described in so few words. This isn’t Twitter, so let’s delve a little deeper.

The Marketing Dictionary:

Paid form of a nonpersonal message communicated through the various media by industry, business firms, nonprofit organizations, or individuals. Advertising is persuasive and informational and is designed to influence the purchasing behavior and/or thought patterns of the audience. Advertising is a marketing tool and may be used in combination with other marketing tools, such as sales promotions, personal selling tactics, or publicity.

OK, this is better, and in general, I think it captures the spirit of the term. Yet, the definition made me think, “How blasé. Dictionary definitions can be real snoozers!” They lack the appeal, pizazz and sham-wow that advertising can engender.

I prefer a broader and more chromatic definition of what constitutes advertising:

Every attempt to secure the sale of a product or service is advertising. The wares of the primitive merchant displayed invitingly in front of his booth is advertising. A want ad, to secure a job or an employee, is advertising. An inscription on a wall, the barker in front of a side show, the promises of an internet marketer, the announcement of a new online technology, membership in an affiliate program, wearing a peculiar shirt or distinctive sticker in your car - all these are forms of advertising in that they seek to attract attention to a product or a service that is for sale. For a product or a service of general use, rich and poor, high and low, men, women and even children, must be appealed to.

Works for me! Thanks to Fidel Prida, work@home entrepreneur, for breathing life into the definition of advertising.

Does this definition work for you? Let me know your thoughts.

Later on, I intend to challenge the notion that advertising is confined to the promotion of products and services, or the acquisition of votes. Hmmm, could be salacious.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Advertising rocks my world!

Anyone who knows me understands that television commercial breaks are not the time to engage me in conversation. My poor wife, who loves to chat, discovered this early in our relationship. Lucky for me, she didn’t ditch me after the first few times of unsuccessfully attempting to rip my attention away from the television to share a brief story of her day, only to discover my brain was fixated on the 30-second vignettes on the tube.

This attraction to advertising started at a young age. I can recall being mesmerized by TV, radio, print and even billboard ads when my age was represented by a single digit. Over the years, the attraction turned into a passion, a college degree, and ultimately, a career in marketing communications.

Something 2 Ad is my forum for sharing my passion. This will be more than a review of ads past and present that have captured my attention along with an explanation of why I like them (or not); I'll also be discussing advertising in all its forms, the power of advertising to affect change in society, both positive and negative, and whether or not agencies and their clients have responsibilities to their customers and the public at large. I also plan to research and comment on where advertising is going. It's a vast and exciting subject and I intend to delve into all areas where I have an interest, a point of view, and a desire to learn.

So let's start the journey and see where this blog goes. I hope you enjoy what I have to say and are motivated to provide your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree with me.

Let's start with a look at a commercial that is currently airing on national TV. Embedded here is one of my faves from the AT&T U-verse campaign:

This ad just cracks me up. The girl is a hoot. Love her attitude! The brief exchange between Tim and Mason is great; especially how Mason endures Tim's wisdom and then dismisses him with a simple "Yea, but I, I don't have that." His facial expression and body language speaks volumes.

This AT&T U-verse campaign is brilliantly executed. I'll be re-visiting it in future posts.