The reason why we study advertising is because advertisers use language and images to persuade us. They do it so well that sometimes we don’t even know we’re being persuaded to buy a product ... we just HAVE to have it! We need to be aware of the 'tricks of the trade' so that we don’t get unduly influenced.
A Definition of Advertising:
So what exactly is advertising? It could be defined as follows:
Advertising is any (1) paid-for, (2) persuasive communication that uses the (3) mass media to promote a (4) need-satisfying product to a (5) specific target market.
Let’s break that down:
Adverts are paid for - they are not free. Companies have to pay for their adverts to appear in the media.
Adverts are persuasive. They tell us what they want us to do and then motivate us to do it.
Adverts communicate with us via the mass media (i.e. radio, television, magazines, newspapers, internet, outdoors).
Adverts try to sell us a specific product / service that we may need.
Adverts are aimed at specific groups of people (e.g. the youth market, housewives, etc).
The Purpose of Advertising:
So what exactly are advertisers trying to achieve? They could have as their goal any one of the following:
Attract people to a store, website or office;
Increase awareness and knowledge of the company, product / service or a socially important message (PSA);
Increase positive attitudes towards the company or product.
In achieving their goals, advertisers can either use a hard sell approach whereby they encourage potential customers to take action NOW, or they can use a soft sell approach whereby the make their adverts so memorable that, even though the potential customer may not be ready to make that purchase yet, when they are in the market for the product / service, they will remember that particular product.
Memorable adverts usually don't appeal to our rational minds. Instead, they appeal to our emotions (our inner-being). Advertisers use various advertising appeals to unlock our emotions through emotive text, pictures, graphics and music.
An 'advertising appeal' is the emotional heart of an advert. It links a product to a need that we all have and convinces us that buying the product will satisfy that need.
You can tell which advertising appeal is being used by looking closely at the images and the wording, which would be very emotive.
There are many different advertising appeals, each aimed at addressing a different need or desire that we have. Here are some common advertising appeals:
The 'bargain appeal' addresses our need to save in tough times:
The 'beauty appeal' addresses our need to look beautiful:
A good advert must explain why a product is worth buying. To accomplish this, it needs to be engaging and compelling.
"Engaging" is about capturing someone's attention. Engaging copy is interesting and full of energy. Think of the difference between a master storyteller and a boring recitation.
"Compelling" is about being convincing. Compelling adverts contain strong arguments for purchasing.
Adverts should seek to inspire the reader by describing clear benefits about the product or category.
Adverts should be CRISP: Caring, Real, Informational, Straight-forward and Positive.
[Source: Marketing Resource Center, CloudCrowd]
How to Analyse an Advert:
What should you look for when you’re analyzing an advert?
Identify the product / service ... What is the advert trying to sell?
Identify the target audience ... Who is the advert aimed at?
Identify the appeal ... Which appeal has been used? How is it appropriate to the target market?
Identify the central message of the advert ... What is the purpose of the advert? Has the advertiser used a hard or soft sell approach? What outcome does the advertiser desire?
Identify the persuasive (emotive) language that the advertiser has used ... How is the appeal communicated to you in words? What words / phrases are aimed at getting an emotional response out of you? What is communicated about the actual product?
Look at the graphics ... What photos / diagrams / drawings have been used? What did the advertiser hope to achieve by using those particular graphics? How do they contribute to the overall aim of the advert?
The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASASA) regulates our advertising industry.
Any complaint about an advert that makes false claims or crosses the line of good taste can be directed to them. They will investigate the complaint and, if they agree, will force the advertiser to pull the advert.