An Advertisement can be defined as a paid form of non personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods or services, by an identified sponsor. However, in today’s consumer centric world, an advertisement is much more than what it is often defined as. By becoming an essential factor in affecting a consumer’s choice, advertisements serve more than the purpose of simply introducing a product or service.
Advertisements, in any form, have changed over the years. From the initial Paraag Saree ads, which used to give the product and price together, to new ones like that of Airtel, which highlight more of a social situation than of actually talking about the product. Ads have also become impersonal, like that of Virgin Mobile.
Ads are an extremely important aspect that a producer looks at, sometimes almost as much as his concern about the product. Advertisements, a part of Marketing, help a product establish in a market. It is only through advertisements that a consumer becomes aware of the varied choices that he has.
Brand Ambassadors, a part of the entire process of advertising, act as agents of sellers. They sell their goodwill and promote the good or service. The consumers automatically identify with these popular faces and blindly follow their recommendations. It is indeed annoying to see superstars doing advertisements that cross levels of rationality and basic sense. One of the advertisements showed a person hitting a lamp-post and his soul still had the desperation of having a chocolate, that it entered someone else’s body. More than amused, I was disappointed at the quality of the advertisement, because I felt that the makers of the advertisement thought the audience was dumb and only wanted to see the brand ambassador in the ad. This did not negatively affect the product, but it left a negative impact on me.
As time advanced, it was not all about promoting ones own good, but to defame the competitors good, usually by “indirectly” making fun of their old advertisements. The entire saga of one amusing ad after another by two cold drink giants started long time ago and was recently revived. The recent advertisements by Horlicks and Complan directly defame each other, by naming and showing the products.
Advertisements have also been instruments of social change. Important messages regarding Family Planning, Polio Drops, and HIV etc. have been spread through ads, initiated by the Government. A certain family planning ad set in a Kabbadi field is extremely hilarious, but conveys the stigma attached to birth control measures and that we should overcome it and be more open to the entire idea. To some, the entire ad was obscene, but for me it was a great piece.
However, that does not mean that no advertisement can be obscene. The Government of India recently banned some advertisements for being morally and ethically incorrect. There are two important questions that arise out of here. One, who decides what is correct and not? And the other one; which is more related to the topic, is that, to what degree can one go to promote a product?
As most things are, this too is relative. For one ad maker, a bikini clad model would not be obscene but for another, it might be outrageous. What every producer must keep in mind is that, he is selling a product to a particular society, which is made up of varied groups. He must identify that which is largely acceptable and then create an advertisement based on the same. A raunchy advertisement might not be accepted in a conservative society like India, but might be acceptable in an open (not necessarily modern) society like Thailand.
A special mention should be given to advertisements, that work on the principle seeing is believing. I am talking about those ads which show an elaborate description of the product and urge you to dial the toll free number and place the order there and then. These ads having been running for times immortal and are a very good watch. The fact that such a mode of business has expanded from off hour advertisements to an entire dedicated channel, only proves that simple product centric advertisements are able to sell products. However, goodwill needs to be established for the same, which requires years of service and in this case, providing the same product as portrayed in the advertisement.
To conclude, advertisements drive the mind. They can conquer it, fulfill the unfulfilled and most importantly, create a big hole in your pocket. Next time you see an ad, don’t rush. See the content, price, weight mumbo jumbo, your utility and your want and your intuition, and not the brand ambassador.