Thursday, August 27, 2009

Just what is advertising?

I have to admit I’m confused…I’ve been studying advertising for a long time, but I no longer seem to know what it is. If you “Google” the term advertising there is consensus that it refers to the promotion—informing and/or persuading consumers--of a product or service through paid announcements. But when you consider, for example the “dancing babies” video for Evian bottled water, how might we square it with that definition of advertising? The video’s distribution is not paid for, it contains no obvious message (what in advertising, they used to call a selling point), and it lacks persuasive elements and information (product features or benefits). So, how can you call it advertising? What the video does have is an emotional kick, which is intended to provide consumers with a vague association between those positive feelings the video evoked and the brand or product/service. Those feelings may be strong enough that consumers want to spread the word to other consumers.

In this way the advertisement is the consumer herself or himself. And, that is how products and services are being promoted in the 21st Century. This position is confirmed in an August 27, 2009 Wall Street Journal article in which Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Group, the world's largest (by revenue) advertising firm, who says, “it’s not going to be in 30-second TV ads; it’s not going to be in newspaper or magazine ads; it’s going to be…digital.” So, perhaps a good starting point this semester is to reconcile the traditional definition of advertising with this newer form. Do we even want to call it advertising?

And, what skills do you think it takes to create successful advertising of this kind? I’ve always said that confusion is a mark of intelligence, so it is my hope that through this confusion that you will comment below regarding how you might explain the Evian dancing babies, Cadbury eyebrows, or T-Mobile dance viral videos. I think that would be a good place to begin our semester.


kdpiper said...

I think that the mere fact we are even talking about these videos is proof of their power as advertisements. They're kind of confusing, and they don't even relate to the products they advertise, but that's what is so interesting about them. People are more interested in the dancing T-Mobile video than commercials that actually address T-Mobile plans/phones. And, because these videos are more memorable, I think they could potentially bring more consumers to a product or brand.

Ashley Hall said...

I definitely believe that the three videos presented are advertisements because the purpose of an advertisement is to leave an impression on its viewer. Effective advertisements do this very well by evoking those emotions in consumers which they would like to be associated with their particular product. If nothing else these videos are all memorable and this means they are doing their job as an advertisement. Even if the viewer does not go out and buy the product they know what that product is. This helps build consumer recognition which is an important part of a companies marketing strategy. There are many other reasons why these videos effectively capture audiences. The core message is conveyed in both the Evian commercial, which was meant to represent youth, and the T-mobile commercial, which was meant to convey sharing, togetherness or cooperation. The eyebrow commercial still has me a little stumped and weirded out, but in my opinion it is clear that each of these videos can be called advertisements.

The skills needed to create an effective advertisement are simply to be able to relate to people and then knowing what icons and images evoke what emotions. This is used strategically to portray the product to the consumer in ways that grasp different target markets more directly and more successfully. If someone can make a complete stranger in a crowd feel singled out as if a product was created specifically for that person, than that someone has the potential to be a great advertiser.

Just as people can be advertisements themselves by speaking about and recommending products, the videos that seem totally unrelated to the product are advertisements by association. I could make a video showing just about anything, however if I put the Nike logo and slogan at the end of it, it becomes an advertisement by association. The same would would result from placing any other logo/slogan at the end of some wacky video, it becomes an advertisement by association.

My question would then be, how far does advertising by association go? If I wear a shirt that says "Aero" on it, am I an advertisement for Aeropostale? or the GAP? or POLO? or what have you? When does the chain of advertising then end?

Jojoseph said...

Out of all three of the advertisements I would unfortunately have to say that Evian did the best job at displaying their product although it was poorly down I remember Evian being the product trying to be displayed. I feel advertisements have lost their persuasion factor but gained their entertainment factor. I question why advertisements have lost their persuasion factor and picked up so much on the entertainment factor, is it because producers know how hard it is to keep the attention of a consumer, or because their product doesn’t have enough spice to it and can’t stand alone on a shelf of other products? The commercial on T- Mobile bothered me a little bit because throughout the commercial I didn’t remember that it was for T-Mobile, now what if I would’ve walked away from the TV in the middle of the commercial I wouldn’t know what advertisement was about or for? And for the children in the commercial doing crazy things with their eyebrows, I really just don’t understand what that was about.

I wonder how many people will go buy the T-Mobile product or the chocolate bar after seeing the advertisements, because based on what I saw the T-mobile commercial doesn’t say anything about the type of plans or features the phone offer, and the chocolate advertisement presents only confusion to me. Some advertisements have lost their selling and persuasive flare and should re-evaluate what an advertisement is, and what an advertisement of their product needs to relate to consumers and be bought by consumers. It can have the entertainment aspect but also needs the persuasion or the telling us what the product is aspect.

I agree with Ashley’s point about an advertisement needing to evoke the emotion the consumer would have with the product but I also think it needs to help the viewer remember the product's name at the end of it.

Kara said...

I agree in that since we are talking about these videos, this shows how successful these ads actually are. In today's constantly changing society fueled by technology and entertainment, it is the most memorable and entertaining advertisements that get stuck in our heads. While its hard for us to determine how a bizarre dancing eyebrows commercial is supposed to sell us chocolate, at the end of the day if we see that product in the store we might end up trying it just because we remembered the funny commercial we saw about it. If it is true that one of the most important goals of advertising is to be memorable, then these commercials all succeed in giving us something to think about.

Katherine K said...

Solely referring to the T-Mobile video, I honestly don't know what to think about it. It is catchy and it's brings your attention to the screen but it is way too long. I have to different stances. I believe the build up in this advertisement is important as more and more people are becoming connected and you see them using their cells phones to take pictures and send it along to friends etc. but on the other hand, it is really making the consumer believe that T-mobile will supply them with a reliable service?

This is where I am stumped. Because just like the ad for Evian water, how many different ways can you tell the consumer their water is better? They are all pretty much the same. So at a certain point I think T-Mobile did a good job at a creative stand point but in terms of making the consumer want and rely on their product, I am indifferent.