Advertising Is Functional

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"A man wakes up in the morning after sleeping on an advertised bed, in an advertised pyjamas, he will brush with advertised toothpaste, wash with advertised soap, shave with an advertised razor, have a breakfast of advertised orange juice, cereal and toast, sip his advertised coffee, put on advertised clothes and glance at an advertised watch. He will ride to work in an advertised car, sit at an advertised desk and write with an advertised pen. Yet this man hesitates to advertise, saying advertising does not pay. Finally, when his unadvertised business goes under, he will advertise it for sale." -- Dr Curtis Huston

The popular quote above illuminates a protagonist view to advertising.In the quote above, the word ' advertising' appears sixteen times, showing the power of words and appeals employed in advertising to arrest its audiences. One may begin to ruminate on the appeals of advertising as mass communication.Advertising communicates to a large, dispersed, heterogeneous audience.It sifts its audience as grain from shaft; it particularises its target group and segments same--adult, children, married women, students, market women and so forth.

Defining advertising
Advertising is regarded as a paid form of promotion of goods, services or ideas to a large audience through a medium by an identified sponsor.Because money as well as promotion of goods and services are involved, advertising is business.It is a big business with laws and ethics.

Advertising messages ( the actual advertisements whether in newspapers, television, radio, film, or new media) come in different colours: it can be product advertisements, institutional advertisements or political advertisements. Products advertisements showcase goods and services through the eyes of the media; institutional advertisements project corporate establishments while political advertisements hypes political parties and candidates in terms of their programmes and their relationship with electorate.Any kind of advertisement depends on the purpose for which the message is deployed.

Advertising as communication and marketing
Advertising is seen by some scholars as communication to a large audience to influence their choice and behaviour in a positive way. It convinces this audience on their buying choice and pattern. It also announces availability of brands, products and services to those who need them. Advertising as a medium of communication informs, educates as well as entertain through good copywriting and presentation of delivery. Advertising is also considered as one of the marketing tools.In marketing mix, the 5 P's of marketing includes advertising which is called promotion. Others are product, price, place and positioning.

Language of advertising
Every business or profession has its language. The language of advertising is creativity ( although some antagonists of advertising argue that certain advertisements employ deceptive language to bamboozle their target audience). The language of advertising is persuasion. The fact remains that since a good product sells itself, advertising cannot be used to sell a bad product twice. Charlatans can employ it to decieve its audience but once. However, the product quality and utility will eventually determine its acceptance in the long run. Advertisement messages become more successful when stars or super stars give testimonials that they have used such a product and that so-so brand is reliable and good.

One can advocate therefore that advertising is not an end in itself but a means to an end. It is a platform for the presentation and projection of brands or products but not the actual acceptance until the audience is satisfied on the need to identify with or use such product.

Choosing a medium of advertising
The audience determines the medium of advertising.The advertising or public relations practitioner does opinion surveys and market research to determine the appropriate medium or media to employ for a particular promotion.Are the target audience school-age children, married women or youth? Are they adult men or the elite?Market segmentation should be well done to determine the channels of communication.

The advertiser also monitors and measures the effects of advertising messages on the intended audience. How have people responded to the message? Are the responses positive, negative to indifferent? This comes in form of results.

Advertising copy
An advertising copy is considered a living enigma with captivating appeals to its target audience.Whether for print, broadcast or convergence, an advertisement copy has a head ( and at times with sub heads), a body, a pay off and a signature. The head of an advertisement message is its title, the body copy refers to the central message in the copy while the pay-off is a message of positioning that is registered in the mind of the advertisement audience.The signature is the advertisement sponsor who must be identified.

Benefits of advertising
One of the benefits of advertising is the creation of awareness of a product or brand to prospective users or loyalists.When a product or brand is entering the market, there is the need to strategically to package some advertising messages highlighting the qualities of such product or brand.When a damsel twinkles in the dark, nobody notices.This also applies to an unadvertised good product or brand.Advertising is like a light illuminating the path to the audience of what is being projected.But what advertising cannot do is to turn a bad product to a good product.This is why ideally, advertising agencies and registered practitioners have copy-testing of a new product to observe and see the qualities the producer of the product claims it to have. Interestingly, advertising moves at the pace of technology. For instance online advertisements, telephone push messages and animations can interestingly reach a larger audience.

Protagonists of advertising see it as a cheap approach to attracting more customers or brand loyalists.Suppose a product or service is advertised on a full page of a Nigerian national newspaper for Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000). Suppose the media house publishes 80, 000 copies for the edition in which the advertisement is placed, that means for every copy N8 only is paid to advertise while several readers are likely to be exposed to such message in every copy.This is why protagonists of advertising see it as a cheap way of conveying our products or brands to our audience.The more an advertisement message is repeated, the more its audience are exposed to it and the more likely the effects of its message.

A critical mind wonders why leading brands in their retentive stage of advertising spiral continue to advertise, for instance, Coca Cola or Toyota. A critical mind also wonders why less popular products or brands do not care a hute for advertisement! It is quite ironical that market leader products and brands continue to advertise to retain their existence and leadership on the minds of their audience/target audience while those of lesser popularity may wait for their total extinction or crisis period before deploying the same machinery to either revive such product or brand or put them for sale.

This is why Dr Curtis Huston's quotation above makes advertising an interesting venture.

*Katib wrote from Crescent University, Abeokuta via katibidris@

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Articles by Idris Katib