Advertising is paid, nonpersonal communication that is designed to communicate in a creative manner, through the use of mass or information-directed media, the nature of products, services, and ideas. It is a form of persuasivecommunication that offers information about products, ideas, and services that serves the objectives determined by the advertiser. Advertising may influence consumers in many different ways, but the primary goal of advertising is to increase the probability that consumers exposed to an advertisement will behave or believe as the advertiser wishes. Thus, the ultimate objective of advertising is tosell things persuasively and creatively. Advertising is used by commercial firms trying to sell products and services; by politicians and political interest groups to sell ideas or persuade voters; by not-for-profit organizations to raise funds, solicit volunteers, or influence the actions of viewers; and by governments seeking to encourage or discourage particular activities, such a wearingseatbelts, participating in the census, or ceasing to smoke. The forms that advertising takes and the media in which advertisements appear are as varied as the advertisers themselves and the messages that they wish to deliver.
The word “advertise” originates from the Latin advertere , which means to turn toward or to take note of. Certainly, the visual and verbal commercial messages that are a part ofadvertising are intended to attract attention and produce some response by the viewer. Advertising is pervasive and virtually impossible to escape. Newspapers and magazines often have more advertisements than copy; radio and television provide entertainment but are also laden with advertisements; advertisements pop up on Internet sites; and the mail brings a variety of advertisements. Advertisingalso exists on billboards along the freeway, in subway and train stations, on benches at bus stops, and on the frames around car license plates. In shopping malls, there are prominent logos on designer clothes, moviegoers regularly view advertisements for local restaurants, hair salons, and so on, and live sporting and cultural events often include signage, logos, products, and related informationabout the event sponsors. The pervasiveness of advertising and its creative elements are designed to cause viewers to take note.
The Functions of Advertising
Although the primary objective of advertising is to persuade, it may achieve this objective in many different ways. An important function of advertising is the identification function, that is, to identify a product and differentiate itfrom others; this creates an awareness of the product and provides a basis for consumers to choose the advertised product over other products. Another function of advertising is to communicate information about the product, its attributes, and its location of sale; this is the information function. The third function of advertising is to induce consumers to try new products and to suggest reuse ofthe product as well as new uses; this is the persuasion function.
The identification function of advertising includes the ability of advertising to differentiate a product so that it has its own unique identity or personality. One famous example of this is found in the long-running advertising for Ivory Soap. In the late 1800s, a soap maker at Procter and Gamble left his machine running during hislunch period and returned to find a whipped soap that, when made into bars, floated. The company decided to capitalize on this mistake by advertising Ivory Soap with the phrase “It Floats.” This characteristic of Ivory Soap served to uniquely identify it and differentiate it from other bars of soap.
The information function of advertising can also be found in advertising for Ivory Soap. For...