blue sky

Home       Display       HandyHints

The Art of Advertising

With the advent of television the floodgates were opened and consumers could be mercilessly attacked in their own homes. Early commercials were pretty boring and just put across the best points of a product, very briefly because air-time was costly. From then on, TV stations learned quickly about the financial potential of ads and set about researching the viewing public's habits so that they could benefit. They worked out when most people tuned in, what their preferences were likely to be based on the programmes they watched and, in particular, which members of the family had the most influence in the group with respect to buying. Like the prized spots in the supermarket, TV channels charged more for commercial breaks during prime adult time, and included that special window when children would be in front of the box. This demographic, it was discovered, was heaven-sent. Kids are born snake-oil salesmen and are the frequent targets in the must-have game. Ads for toys, junk-food, even cars are aired when children are glued to the screen, and the way they are made specifically appeals to the younger set - put a kid or two in the clip and young viewers will identify with it immediately. That's clever, by-passing the parents and going straight to the in-house manipulators who will never let it rest until they've got what they want - what the advertisers encourage them to want.

How insidious, you might think. It's pretty low, exploiting the innocent and naive. Youngsters don't have the experience to know when they are being sucked in - but we do...? Of course we do: that's why we have the DVD so that we can record programmes and fast-forward through the commercials. On occasions, however, snippets are noticed while the ad-break is flicking through - a distinctive car badge, a couple of blokes drinking beer (a glimpse of the label on the bottle tells us which brand); and - what was that? - a boat plus a fishing rod and reel... We hit the pause button and rewind, just to watch a particular advertisement that caught our attention. Will we buy, won't we? Somebody will, maybe many, fast-forwarders just like us; and the ploy's paid off. We talked earlier about icons, fleeting images easily recognised that attract. All are there, and although some may seem to have nothing whatever to do with the product, they grab us anyway - a group of pretty girls in bikinis, a well-known personality, a preview of a forthcoming series-return, those pictures that cause us to pause and look. It doesn't matter what, nor how relevant, just so long as we take a few moments to focus. The brand name of the product will be there somewhere, and once seen it is in our memory, to be refreshed whenever we encounter the familiar logo again. Why did I mention the station primer for the "coming soon" series? After all, it was only advertising itself. But now we know it's coming back, we'll keep watching until we find out when, just so that we don't miss it. Neither will we miss the commercials during each episode, even though we'll fast-forward through them as usual - flash, flash, in our heads - brand names, logos, shapes, colours, constantly repeated, seemingly forgettable; until we catch sight of them next time we go shopping.

Makers of video commercials are very aware of our fondness for drama, comedy, sex and they use it well. There are those clips spruiking a product while telling a little story, usually tongue-in-cheek. We tend to watch these because, like the programme they've interrupted, they are entertaining in their own right. Worked into the thirty-second mini-show will be a name, maybe an icon or logo, and although we watched it all the way through because it was simply enjoyable, like it or not, the message has sunk in. Occasionally, however, the ad company is a bit over-subtle and the message is buried so deeply that it is missed altogether. We love the commercial and always have a good laugh over it; but, for the life of us, we haven't a clue what it's supposed to be selling. Or maybe that's just another gimmick. The oversight nags at us, so we actually wait for the commercial to appear, just to find out what it was advertising. Slam dunk!

So, from time to time, the smart guys may appear to slip up, but I seriously doubt they do. They know us better than we know ourselves, they see us coming and definitely have no intention of giving us an even break. They can't afford to: their clients are desperate for our money; and, as the ones encouraging us to spend, the advertising agents want their cut. We should be grateful, really, being kept in the know, as it were. Fortunately we are intelligent individuals, so regarding what to buy and when, that remains our choice and ours alone. Hmm...?

Next issue:   Insurance – to have, or have not: that’s the question

Previous page

Click this Click for PDF file image to view or print complete article.

  Back to beginning of article

Money Fruit Food on plate Spyglass ereader Popcorn

Where every effort has been made to be accurate and fair-minded, comments and opinions expressed on this website are based on personal experience and do not necessarily reflect the views of the wider community or those groups and institutions mentioned. A Season of Happiness and its staff accept no responsibility for any outcome based on suggestions offered. What works for us may not work for you. Please bear this in mind.

copyright © 2011-2015  All Rights Reserved