Advertising Campaigns Essay

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An advertising campaign involves the development and  placement  of  a  series  of  strategic  messages that are united by a core theme. The strategic messages  are  intended   to  promote a  product, a service,  or  an  idea  among   a  specific  group   of people. Advertising  campaigns  usually  have specific objectives or goals, such as increasing people’s   awareness   of   a   product  or   service, changing  people’s  attitudes toward a product or service,  or   enhancing   people’s   demand   for   a product or service. To ensure that  a specific group of people can receive them, the strategic  messages appear  in various media channels across a specific time frame, such as newspapers, magazines, radio, or the Internet.

To build up the advertising  objectives, advertisers  need  to  obtain   information on  the  relevant market  for the product/service, outline its strengths and  weaknesses,  and  assess its opportunities and any threat  to it. While many large firms have their own marketing department to monitor the marketing  environment, smaller  firms  hire  an  external marketing research company  to do so. Researchers use  two  types  of  research   to  collect  marketing data: primary  and secondary. Through primacy research, researchers can collect data from the marketplace  directly.   However,   conducting  primary  research  is expensive  and  time-consuming. Therefore, many researchers frequently conduct secondary   research   and  collect  data   from  published reports  and databases.

Also, advertisers, before developing an advertising   campaign,   need   to   understand  the target audience, a specific group of people whom a company  wishes to reach. Those people may share similarities  in certain  characteristics, such  as age, gender, marital  status, geographical location, social status,  and  so on. For example,  the luxury  brand Chanel caters to middle-or upper-class  urban  men and women  aged 18 to 40 years who love fashion and have good taste for elegance. The jeans brand Levi’s targets  young  urban  men and  women  aged 18 to 35 years who love fashion and are optimistic about   the   future.   Researchers   need   to   design studies to explore the target audience’s attitudes, habits,   personality  traits,   lifestyles,  and   specific needs and wants. Many social scientists have conducted research  to  study  consumer   decisions and to find out the factors that influence a person’s decision  to  choose  a  product. Besides a  person’s own  mental  and  physical  status,  social  influence from  family  members,  colleagues,  or  friends  can also shape people’s decisions.

Based on the information about  the market, the product,  and   the   target   audience,   advertisers develop  advertising   objectives.  After  establishing the advertising objectives, advertisers develop an advertising strategy to fulfill the objectives. Advertising  strategy  includes creative strategy  and media strategy. The critical part of creative strategy is to develop a core theme that  sets the tone for all the  advertising   messages  communicated through an  advertising   campaign.   A  core  theme   is  the central message that conveys the benefit of the product/service and inspires consumers’  desire for the product/service. The process of developing  the core theme or the central message of an advertising campaign   is  tedious.  Advertising  artists  need  to gather   all  the   relevant   information  about   the product, collect  consumers’   opinions   about   the product, and  search  for  a  key  verbal  or  visual concept to communicate the core assets of the product. The  author Roger  von  Oech  suggested that  when  artists  create  the central  message for a product, they can  think  of what  else the  product can  do  for  the  target   audience   instead   of  the obvious. When there is information overload  and a creative block, artists can just walk away and then come back  after  a break  with  a great  idea. Once the creative  thinkers  identify  the central  message, they start  to  implement  it. This  is where  the  real advertising  messages come in—writing  the persuasive  words   and  choosing   the  right  layout.  The words  included  in  an  advertising   campaign   not only communicate information about  the product but also arouse people’s positive feelings and desire for the product. By choosing  the right  text  types, colors,  and  graphic  image, artists  create  the right atmosphere for consumers  to process the advertising  information and  imagine  about  the  product. A good combination of verbal and visual elements makes an advertising  campaign  work.

Moreover, advertisers  can adopt  different  types of  appeals  in  advertising   messages  to  reach  the target  audience,  such as the fear, humor,  rational, sex, and  bandwagon appeals.  Fear  appeals  focus on  the  negative   outcome   if  people   do  not   do something  as suggested  by an  advertisement. For instance, skin product ads often appeal to women’s fear of aging and tell women that if they do not use the advertised  products, more  wrinkles  will grow on their skin. Humor appeals make the target audience  laugh when they are exposed  to the ads. Through humorous ads, advertisers hope to attract the target audience’s attention and to generate positive attitudes toward the ads and thus toward the  product. Rational appeals  focus  on  the  function of a product, and ads usually provide  factual information  to  emphasize   the  product  benefits. Ads also use sex appeals  to capture  an audience’s attention. For  instance,  beer  ads  often  use  sexy young models to promote the product and to link the   product  to   an   attractive  and   sexy  image. A  bandwagon  appeal   corresponds  to   people’s desire to fit in with a group, and it makes consumers believe that they need to buy a product because others  are using it.

Some issues arouse people’s attention when advertisers  try  to  put  an advertising  campaign  in international  markets.  For   instance,   there   is  a debate on whether an advertising  campaign  should be standardized or localized  to different  markets. For many  global  brands,  adopting a standardization strategy sounds good. According to the international marketing researcher  Marieke  De Mooij, the standardization strategy helps an advertising   campaign   maintain a  uniform  brand image across markets, save costs, simplify the planning  process, and make good use of the same ideas and management resources. When the standardization strategy   is  used,  the  advertising messages need to be translated into local languages while   the   other   elements   of   the   advertising campaign  remain  the same across all the markets. The   standardization  strategy   works   especially when the advertising messages include universal themes and appeals. However, due to cultural differences, local consumers may not accept the advertising  messages the way people from the original market  do. Some symbols used in the original ads may not resonate with the local people, and sometimes  a color  that  refers to happiness  in one culture  may imply death  or blasphemy  in another. Therefore,  some companies  prefer the localization strategy. De Mooij noted that international advertisers  using  localization strategies  adopt  the same central message and the same advertising objectives across markets but execute the central message  in  different   ways  in  different   markets. Since  different   countries   have  different   cultural values and media systems, advertisers may use different types of appeals across countries, different media  vehicles to  carry  the  advertising  messages, and different spokespersons to increase the credibility  of the messages across markets.

Media strategy describes how the advertising messages can be communicated to a specific group of people through the use of media vehicles within a given budget.  Depending  on  how  many  people from the target audience a media vehicle can reach, how often the target  audience  use a certain  media vehicle, and how much it costs to place advertising messages  on  a media  vehicle, campaign  planners can  figure  out  a  combination of  various  media vehicles to use. Moreover, since a variety of media vehicles are used in an advertising  campaign,  these campaigns  can include different  types of advertising. For instance, if newspapers and magazines are used,  print  advertising  comes  into  being. A print advertisement contains  a headline,  subhead,  body copy, slogan, and logo. The role of a headline is to arouse people’s attention, engage them, present the benefits  of  the  product, and  lead  people  to  the main body copy. A subhead  adds additional information to the headline  and  provides  support for the headline. The body copy tells the sales story about   the  product and  covers  the  benefits  and features  of the  product in  detail.  Also, the  body copy needs to capture  people’s attention, to offer evidence to support the claim in the headline  and subhead,  to emphasize the product’s  unique selling points, and to reduce people’s doubts about the product. A  print   advertisement  also  includes   a slogan. The  use of a slogan  serves two  purposes: first, to link all the ads in an advertising  campaign together and, second, to present the key point of an advertisement in one single statement.

An advertising  campaign  can also include radio and  television  advertising  if radio  and  television are  used  as  its  media  vehicles.  Compared  with print  advertising,  radio  and  television  advertising are  able  to  present  the  sales story  in more  vivid ways. While radio  advertising  can add audio  cues, such as music and voice, television advertising  can include both  audio  and visual cues, such as music, animation, and the image of the endorsing  person. However, when advertising  campaigns  have a tight budget,  they  may  not  be  able  to  afford   to  use television as a communication vehicle.

Also, ads can be traced on Web sites, search engines (e.g., Google), and social networking sites, such   as   Facebook    and   Twitter.   The   Internet provides  an  alternative and  affordable platform for advertising campaigns to reach their target audience. Noticeably, Google provides  services for advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their advertising   messages   on   Google,   such   as  how many people have clicked on the ads placed on Google. Also, Google  allows  advertisers  to customize the group of people they target and their daily budget. Other  social media, such as YouTube, have also inspired advertisers  to place video ads on the platform to attract many young people. These ads rely on  social media  users to spread  them  to others via the technological functions  equipped  on the social media, such as sharing and liking. In addition,  advertisers   have   taken   advantage  of social networking sites to deliver individually tailored ads. Their tactics include tracking user behaviors  and activities on social networking sites, searching  for the pages and content  social networking site  users  have  visited  and  browsed, and following their status change (e.g., “in a relationship,” “married,”  or  “having   upcoming birthday”) to  deliver  advertising  tailored  to  their interests. Moreover, advertisers  may even place ads in  other  digital  media  platforms, such  as  DVDs, video games, and mobile phones. Since the appearance of the smart phone in the market, advertisers   have   been   placing   ads   on   mobile phones.  Banner  ads  are  inserted   into  apps  that users download on their smart  phones. When they open the apps, they are exposed to the advertising messages.

When  selecting the right  media vehicles to use, advertisers  also need to determine  the schedule of placing the advertising messages in each media vehicle within  a period  of time, from a few weeks to a few years. They can either schedule advertising messages continuously throughout the time period, schedule  advertising  messages  to run  during  time intervals   separated  by  periods   within   the  given time  frame,  or  schedule  advertising   messages  to run more frequently  during  some periods  and less frequently  during  other  periods.

An often-cited  example of a successful advertising campaign  is the Dove Real Beauty Campaign. The campaign  was developed  in 2004  after global research showed that only 2 percent of women consider  themselves beautiful. The core theme “Campaign  for   Real   Beauty,”   which   aims   to improve women’s self-esteem, is a groundbreaking idea. The brand  consulting  author and practitioner Allen  P.  Adamson   noted   that   because   of  the campaign,  women  would  love to talk about  Dove and believe that Dove products can make them feel more beautiful  and confident.  To execute the core idea,   the   campaign   first   included   a  series  of billboards  that   featured   real  women   with   real curves and real figures. The portrayal of these real women  falls  outside  the  traditional definition  of beauty  propelled   by  mainstream media,  such  as women’s  magazines.  Contrary to the unattainable and  unrealistic  body  images  portrayed in mainstream media,  Dove aims to redefine  beauty. To  reach  women  around the  world  and  to  invite them  to  join  the  beauty  conversation, Dove  has employed   various   media   vehicles,  such  as  billboards,  women’s  magazines,  and  social media. As Adamson  noted,  Dove has created  a “newsworthy story,” and  the  brand’s  promise  to  make  women feel beautiful  has helped it achieve great success.

Although advertising campaigns are most frequently associated with the promotion of consumer  products, they also extend to a plethora of  other   areas,   such  as  political   elections   and health  promotions. For  example,  the  purpose  of Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 was not to promote a  product but  to  support the  idea  of Obama winning  the election. The central  message of  the  campaign   was  “change,” and  the  slogan “Change We Can Believe In” was used in the campaign. Through the campaign, Obama’s  image was linked to “change,” while his opponents were not. Moreover, Obama’s   team  identified  two  critical target audiences who should receive the messages: (1) undecided voters and (2) young voters. The campaign   aimed   to  persuade   undecided   voters that  they could  change  Washington if they voted for   Obama.  For   young   voters,   the   campaign encouraged them to register to vote. To reach these two  groups  of  people,  the  campaign   adopted a variety  of media  vehicles, both  traditional media (i.e.,  television,   radio,   newspapers)   and   social media (i.e., Facebook,  Twitter,  MySpace). The use of  social  media  to  target  young  voters  marks  a success  of  the  campaign.   Because  many  young people rely on social media to get political information,  Obama’s  campaign   team   realized that   creating   a  presence  for  Obama  on  social media  was  a necessity,  and  they  sent  out  voting reminders  on Twitter  and  interacted with  people on Facebook. As a result, Obama made his policies widely known  among American youth and gained their support.

An example  of promoting healthy  behaviors  is the “Tips” campaign  launched  by the Centers  for Disease   Control  and   Prevention   in  2012.   The primary target audience of this campaign is smokers aged 18 to 54 years, and the secondary  audiences include  people  whose  family,  friends,  or  children are smokers, and health care providers. The central message of this antismoking campaign  focused on “tips.” The campaign  aimed to raise public awareness of the health  damage  caused by smoking  and exposure  to secondhand smoke, to encourage smokers to quit smoking and adopt a healthier lifestyle, and to remind nonsmokers to protect themselves from exposure  to secondhand smoking. To fulfill the objectives, the Tips campaign  featured emotional stories  of  former  smokers  living  with smoking-related diseases  (i.e., throat cancer,  gum disease, premature birth,  asthma, stroke,  diabetes, etc.) and disabilities.  In the campaign,  several former smokers offered tips on how smoking changed their  life in  a  negative  way.  Also,  the  campaign featured  nonsmokers who got smoking-related diseases due to exposure  to secondhand smoke. To reach  the target  audience,  the campaign  appeared on television and social media, such as YouTube.


  1. Adamson, Allen P. BrandSimple:  How  the Best Brands Keep It Simple and Succeed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.
  2. Arens, William F., David H. Schaefer, and Michael F. M: Advertising. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012.
  3. De Mooij,   Advertising Worldwide: Concepts, Theories  and Practice of International, Multinational and Global Advertising. Hertfordshire, UK: Prentice Hall International, 1991.
  4. Goudreau, Kelly A. and Mary Health  Policy and Advanced Practice Nursing:  Impact  and Implications. New York: Springer Publishing Company, 2013.
  5. Von Oech, Roger. A Kick in the Seat of Pants. New York: HarperPerennial, 1986.

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