You will find many definitions and views on advertising. According to the Wikipedia advertising is paid communication through a non-personal medium in which the sponsor is identified and the message is controlled.
Creative Arts or Effectiveness?
Watching various advertising awards nowadays you might think that advertising is above all about creativity. Well, not really, I would say. In my opinion, creativity is just one of many aspects an advert should encompass. It is the main way to gain peoples’ attention, which is crucial to tell them something or to persuade them to buy what you sell. I have read a definition by Mr. Tellis I liked a lot: “Creativity is a productive variation of the common standard”. Here I would underline the word ‘productive’. Advertising is not an art, it is a means of selling goods or achieving other objectives which lead to increasing company’s profits or to increase in the value of company’s shares..
That is why any advert must be efficient prior to creative. You can develop an amazing campaign full of beautifully executed creative ideas. However, unless your sales increase (or unless you gain other goals defined at the beginning of the campaign) you cannot say it was successful. I plan to devote more space to this issue of effectiveness and efficiency in my later posts.
Anyway, another one of the most discussed elements of advertising is its morality. I would like to explain here my own view on this.
Can Advertising Be Moral?
I have always admired those remarkable creators of adverts who have been able to say something more than just ‘Buy this product, it is good for you.’ There always have been such people. Let’s say, Mr. Toscani, for example, who made those well known photos on normally unacceptable issues which are not generally spoken about publicly. He showed death, illness and sex. Uncovered, just as he saw and understood them. Of course, his posters were banned in a few countries. However, his adverts were widely discussed and this also led to the popularity of Benetton, which soon became a brand for those who are not afraid to be different, who have an original view of the world.
I like this guy as he understood that advertising above all is a way of communicating through which you can influence people, start a wide discussion or just make them think. The way he did this was a bit controversal, I agree. But on the other hand, I think he brought a valuable insight into the advertising world.
Another such example is the recent campaign for Dove. This cosmetics company aimed at one thing: to make people think and understand what beauty is. They do not offer their own explanation. They just show average girls you can meet anywhere on the street. No slim blonde models anymore. The beauty accessible in real life, the beauty of your partner, neighbour or friend. They want to prevent us women from being so keen on dieting and make-up. These are not as important as many of us believe. And a lot of men as well! They do not say anything about their products, they just show their logo (which accurately represents the cosmetics industry which has also had a certain influence on the beauty opinions recently).
You can argue that there is always that hidden focus on selling goods through advertising. It is true, as this is at the end of the day the main goal of every means of marketing communications, even of public relations and sponsorship. We do business in order to earn profits not to be charitable.
Therefore, advertising will always be here in whatever form, but it is in the hands of its creators to ensure that it is not being misused. They can influence people through their spots, posters or banners in a positive or negative way. They can change our views on beauty, love, relationships, money, food etc. I just hope they will follow the line established already by these few courrageous pioneers of ‘moral advertising’.
I think that the real advertising expert (or guru, if you want) is the one who is able to sell goods and give out a life-improving message for human society at the same time. It is also vital that he can identify the correct words that need to be spoken to the masses. I hope I will be able to do this one day as well.