The best description of advertising I’ve ever come across

“You need to know that advertising means different things to different people. It’s a business, an art form, an institution and a cultural phenomenon. To the CEO of a multinational corporation like Pepsi, advertising is an essential marketing tool that helps create brand awareness and brand loyalty. To the owner of a small retail shop, advertising is a way to bring people into the store.

To the art director of an advertising agency, advertising is the creative expression of a concept. To a media planner, advertising is the way a firm uses the media to communicate to current and potential customers. To scholars and museum curators, advertising is an important cultural artefact, text, and historical record. Advertising means something different to all these people.

Even though companies believe in and rely heavily on advertising, it is not a process that the average person understands of values. Most people have some significant misinterpretations about advertising and what it’s supposed to do, what it can do and what it can’t do. Many people think advertising deceives others but rarely themselves. Most think it’s a semi-glamorous profession but one in which people are either morally bankrupt con artists or pathological liars. At worst, advertising is seen as hype, unfair capitalistic manipulation, banal commercial noise, mind control, postmodern voodoo, or outright deception. At best, people see advertising as amusing, informative, helpful and occasionally hip.

The truth about advertising lies somewhere between the extremes. Sometimes advertising is hard-hitting and powerful, at other times it’s boring and ineffective. Advertising can be enormously creative and entertaining, and it can simply be annoying. One thing is for sure: advertising is anything but unimportant”
– O’Guinn et al, 2011

Lesson to take away? You might be on either side of the argument, but acknowledge that the truth is in the middle and that in some cases the other side is right. But not always.

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3 thoughts on “The best description of advertising I’ve ever come across

  1. Great quote! Really love how all the distinctions are made. Thank you 🙂

    Questions, though: what do you think about the SuperBowl ads? All the hype that is built up around it, how many people only watch that game for the ad breaks – does advertising warrant that much attention? Is advertising at the superbowl and having a “superbowl ad” in itself a form of marketing? (also, am I seriously confused by the distinction between advertising and marketing here?)

  2. The SuperBowl ads are kind of the Oscars of advertising, if you wish. I say this not in the sense that the quality is amazing, but that the budget is huge and if you’re advertising at the SuperBowl you’re on the A list (in my limited knowledge of film awards, I have the perception of the Oscars being a place where big budget films go, whereas Cannes is more of an independent lower budget thing. But please forgive me if I’m wrong).

    As to the distinction between advertising and marketing…do you want me to explain it to you or what confuses you? The authors don’t mention marketing in general in the quote. But advertising is a form of marketing, thus not all marketing is advertising, but all advertising is marketing.

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