The Advertising Apprentice

October 28, 2009

Advertising is…

Filed under: Advertising — adamlauzon @ 10:30 AM
Tags: , , , ,

Consider the following question:

Is advertising business, communication or entertainment?

Personally I think it’s a combination of all three.

There are many reasons advertising can be considered a business. First of all, advertising isn’t done for free. You don’t decide you want to air an ad during the Super Bowl and only pay for the cost of producing the commercial, which in itself can run in the millions. (I further discuss the cost to air an ad during the Super Bowl below.)

Advertising is a very lucrative business, last year advertising spending in the U.S. alone was close to $142 BILLION! On the topic of money, over half of all marketing expenditures are spent on trade marketing, that is incentives used by manufacturers to get the product through to the retailers. A third is spent on consumer promotions and a fifth is spent on consumer advertising. This was the case in 2004 as reported by Promo Magazine.

Advertising is communication because it fosters communication with your target audience. You have a product/service that you want to promote, how are you going to do that? By communicating with them the advantages of your product, where/how they can buy it, its price, etc. Unless you’re going up to each and every one of your customers you’re going to be doing this on a mass communication level through advertising.

Advertising has the difficult challenge of getting through in the communication process and being heard over the noise; being everything trying to get a person’s attention, including a significant amount of other advertisements. Literally thousands of sources are trying to communicate with you each and every day from the time you open your eyes in the morning until the time your head hits the pillow at night.

Further advertising is communication because that’s how it has been defined by Encarta: a form of commercial mass communication designed to promote the sale of a product or service, or a message on behalf of an institution, organization, or candidate for political office.

Advertising is entertainment because every once and a while you get those gems that captivate people. These are also usually the ads that win Clios, Cannes Lions andĀ other awards. Look at the Super Bowl, sure millions of people tune in to watch an incredible football game but how many millions of non-sports fans tune in to catch the commercials, especially for the water cooler conversation it seems to generate not only the next day, but for weeks to come.

Further look at the general discussion it generates when it’s done well, poorly, or without taste from not only people within the industry, but also the general public. Very few professions have their work scrutinized as much as advertisers. If you are a computer programmer and you do a good job developing code for some software what are the chances of the public even being cognizant of your achievement? Similarly, you’re a banker that just found a way to save a client a ton of money; the recognition you receive will be limited to the client and maybe your boss.

To further illustrate my point that advertising is business, that advertising is communication and that advertising is entertainment, I included the same Gatorade commercial from this year’s Super Bowl for each category. Try telling Pepsi Co., who spent $3 million for the 30-thirty second spot that advertising isn’t business! Just by watching this commercial you know that there is a message they are communicating, and therefore advertising is communication. Finally this ad shows that advertising is entertaining because you probably were entertained in watching what these people define what G means to them. (To save you some time in searching the Internet to find out who they are, I’ve listed them below in order of appearance.)

(This press release provides more in-depth information from Gatorade regarding the vision of the ad.)

This very blog shows how advertising can be business, communication and entertainment. In the business sense I may not be generating money but I often submit this blog as a sample of the writing skills I possess. If I get a job based on the writing in this blog then it would certainly show how advertising is business. Further this blog shows how advertising is communication because I pick an advertising topic and I communicate my ideas about it through the blog. Finally, if advertising wasn’t entertaining do you think I’d be able to sustain writing weekly blog entries for the past couple months? Or keep a constant stream of visitors to this website for that matter?

Those are my thoughts on what is advertising but ultimately it is up to the beholder. Depending on many different factors you may see it differently. If this is the case then share your thoughts below in the comments section.

The idea I wish to end this entry on is that as I’ve shown advertising can be a fusion of business, communication and entertainment. However, this is by no means exhaustive; advertising can be and is so much more. It’s educational when used through a PSA to create and raise awareness for a cause. It’s innovative when a new approach is used to create an ad and when the advertiser really uses that outside of the box approach we all strive for. It is also career for hundreds of thousands of people across the world.


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