By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- 1 Define advertising and provide examples.
- 2 Discuss the importance of advertising in the promotion mix.
Advertising and its Importance in the Promotion Mix
Marketers utilize a variety of ways—or media channels—to promote the organization’s offerings. Regardless of the media channel used, marketers must be consistent in the communication they send to customers.
Advertising is paid communication messages that identify a brand or organization and is intended to reach a large number of recipients. The most traditional media that are used for advertising include newspapers, magazines, television, radio, Internet, and billboards (see Figure 14.2). The increase in the availability and use of the Internet and other technology has also led organizations to advertise on mobile phones, through email, on social media, and on other digital devices.
Like every promotion mix element and media channel, advertising has its own advantages and disadvantages. Advertising is fairly expensive, so the cost to the organization is high. However, advertising reaches a large audience with one ad, so the cost per exposure is relatively low. For example, just one 30-second commercial during the 2021 Super Bowl cost companies around $6 million.5 But with 96.4 million viewers, the cost per exposure (assuming every viewer sees the commercial) is only around 6 cents per viewer. Because advertising is nonpersonal and reaches a large audience, the message can get distorted from the marketer’s intention to that of the audience. For this reason, it is difficult to quickly change the message if it is misunderstood, and it also difficult to capture how well the message was received.
Product advertisements are those that promote a specific product within the organization’s product mix. These advertisements focus on a singular product and intend to bring brand awareness to a product or to differentiate the brand from competitors. In 2013, PepsiCo created a print ad showing a can of Pepsi wearing a Coca-Cola cape, wishing the audience a Happy Halloween. In 2020, Coca-Cola used the same advertisement to counteract the original ad by stating: “Everyone wants to be a hero!” Both are examples of product advertisements, cheekily comparing two fiercely competing brands.6
Unlike product advertisements that focus on one product or brand in an organization’s product mix, institutional advertisements focus on the organization. This differs also from public relations—discussed next—in that it is a paid form of communication. The goal of institutional advertising is to create a positive image or support for the entire organization. Institutional ads also have the advantage of creating a positive impact by attracting potential candidates and increasing employee engagement within the organization. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies stepped up to help mitigate the effects the pandemic had on the country. Early on, Anheuser-Busch switched some of its operations from distilling beer to making hand sanitizer. In April 2020, just one month after the pandemic hit the United States, the company had already delivered over 500,000 bottle of hand sanitizer.7 The company utilized both print and television advertisements to communicate its philanthropic efforts to consumers. It wasn’t trying to sell the public a Budweiser, but rather was using the ads to help bolster its image to consumers.
Importance of Advertising
While there has been a major increase in commercial-free television and the ability to skip ads in multiple media platforms, advertising still remains an important part of the promotion mix. Advertising assists in consumer awareness—making sure the audience is aware of a product or service and its benefits. Advertising also helps to retain customers through reminders and can show audiences that a business aligns with their values. However, with the increase in society’s reluctance to believe what they see in advertisements, it is more important than ever that marketers ensure they are sending the right message at the right time.
It’s time to check your knowledge on the concepts presented in this section. Refer to the Answer Key at the end of the book for feedback.