Advertising and Commercial Culture Product placement

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Chapter 11

Advertising



  1. Advertising and Commercial Culture

  • Product placement- the advertising practice of strategically placing products in movies, TV shows, comic books, and video games so the products appear as part of a story’s set environment

  1. Early Developments in American Advertising

    • Advertising has existed since 3000 B.C. when Babylonians started hanging up door signs for their shops.

    • The earliest media ads were in the forms of handbills, posters, and broadsides (long newsprint-quality posters).

  1. The First Advertising Agencies

    • Before the 1830’s there was little need for advertising because everyone basically made their own tools, clothes, and food.

    • National advertising started in the 1850’s with patent medicines.

    • It started on the railroads with the transportation of national consumer goods.

    • Space brokers- in days before modern advertising, individuals who purchased space in newspapers and sold it to various merchants.

    • In 1841, Volney Palmer opened the first ad agency in Boston; for a 25% commission he worked for newspaper publishers and sold spare space to advertisers.

  2. Advertising in the 1800’s

  • In 1875 in Philadelphia, N.W. Ayer was the first so-called modern ad agency because it worked primarily for the advertisers rather than the publishers.

  • An agency collects a fee from its advertising client for each ad placed; the fee covers the price that each media outlet charges for placement of the ad. The agency keeps 15% of the fee for its self and passes the rest on to the appropriate mass media.


  • The more ads an agency places, the larger the agency’s revenue.

  1. Trademarks and Packaging

    • In the mid 1800’s company’s began giving their products distinctions so that people would know and ask for them by name

    • Smith Brothers, which advertised cough drops, was one of the first brand names

    • Quaker Oats was the first cereal company to register a trade mark, when it used the image of William Penn to project a company image of honesty, decency, and hard work since 1877.

  2. Patent Medicines and Department Stores

  • By the end of the 1800’s, patent medicines and department stores took up half of the revenues taken in by ad agencies.

  • Patent medicines were often made with water and 15-40% concentrations of ethyl alcohol, which made the consumer feel better but also made them addicted.

  • Many products originated from medicines ex. Coca-Cola, Post and Kellogg cereal

  • By the early 1890’s, 20% of ad space was for department stores.

  • Started taking out small shops

  1. Promoting Social Change and Dictating Values

  • Persuasive advertising influenced the transition from a producer-directed to a consumer-driven society.
  • Advertising promoted technological advances by showing how new machines could improve daily life.


  • Advertising encouraged economic growth by increasing sales.

  • Since newspaper and magazine readers were mainly women, advertisers directed their ads at women, making them simple ads with emotional content.

  • Subliminal advertising- a 1950s term that refers to hidden or disguised print and visual messages that allegedly register on the unconscious, creating false needs and seducing people into buying products.

  1. Early Ad Regulation

  • The American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), established in 1917, tried to minimize government oversight by urging ad agencies to refrain from making misleading product claims.

  1. The Shape of U.S. Advertising Today

  • Slogan- a catchy phrase that attempts to promote or sell a product by capturing its essence in words

  • Slogans were the use of most U.S. ads until the 1950s.

  1. The Influence of Visual Design

    • In the 1960s and 70s the use of images in advertising made a big affect.

    • MTV was a leader in this movement of visual advertisements.

  2. The Mega-Agency

  • Mega-agencies- large firms or holding companies that are formed by merging several individual agencies and that maintain worldwide regional offices; they provide both advertising and public relations services and operate in-house radio and TV production studios.
  • The world’s four largest advertising agencies, Interpublic Group of Cos., WPP Group, Publicis Groupe, and Omnicom Group, control over half of the advertising money.


  1. The Boutique Agency

  • Boutique agencies- small regional ad agencies that offer personalized services.

  1. The Structure of Ad Agencies

      1. Market Research and VALS

        • Market research- the department that uses social science techniques to assess the behaviors and attitudes of consumers toward particular products before any ads are created.

        • In 1932, Young and Rubican first used statistical techniques.

        • Demographics- the study of audiences or consumers by age, gender, occupation, ethnicity, education, and income.

        • In the 1960s and 70s, TV greatly increased advertising revenues

        • Psychographics- the study of audience or consumer attitudes, beliefs, interests, and motivations.

        • Focus group- a common research method in psychographic analysis in which a moderator leads a small-group discussion about a product or an issue, usually with six to twelve people.

        • In 1978, the Stanford Research Institute put in the VALS strategy.

        • Values and Lifestyles(VALS)- strategy that divides consumers into types and measures psychological factors, including how consumers think and feel about products and how they achieve (or do not achieve) the lifestyles to which they aspire.



      1. Creative Development

        • Storyboard- a blueprint or roughly drawn comic-strip version of a proposed advertisement.
        • Super Bowl advertising remains to be the most expensive—thirty seconds worth of ad costs about $2.5 million in 2006!!!!


      2. Media Selection and Buying Ads

        • Media buyers- the individuals who choose and purchase they types of media that are best suited to carry a client’s ads and reach the targeted audience.

        • Saturation advertising- the strategy of inundating a variety of print and visual media with ads aimed at target audiences.

      3. Account and Client Management

        • account executives- client liaisons responsible for bringing in new business and managing the accounts of established clients.

        • account reviews- the process of evaluation or reinvigorating an ad campaign, which results in either renewing the contract with the original ad agency or hiring a new agency.

IX. Persuasive Techniques in Contemporary Advertising

  1. Conventional Persuasive Strategies

    • Famous-person testimonial- an advertising strategy that associates a product with the endorsement of a well-known person. This is used the most frequently

    • Plain-folks pitch- an advertising strategy that associates a product with simplicity and the common person.

    • Snob-appeal approach- an advertising strategy that attempts to convince consumers that using a product will enable them to maintain or elevate their social station. This is often used when trying to sell perfume, jewelry, luxury cars.

    • Bandwagon effect- an advertising strategy that incorporates exaggerated claims that everyone is using a particular product, so you should, too.

    • Hidden-fear appeal- an advertising strategy that plays on a sense of insecurity, trying to persuade consumers that only a specific product can offer relief. Deodorants, mouthwash, and shampoo ads do this a lot.

    • Irritation advertising- an advertising strategy that tries to create product-name recognition by being annoying or obnoxious. For example those stupid “head on, apply directly to the forehead” commercials.


  2. The Association Principle

  • Association Principle- a persuasive technique that associates a product with some cultural value or image that has a positive connotation but may have little connection to the actual product.

  • This technique is used a lot with cars.

  • There has been a lot of controversy with this technique when companies have used it to associate women with the stereotype of being sex objects or clueless house wives.

  1. Advertising as Myth

  • Myth analysis- a strategy for critiquing advertising that provides insights into how ads work on a cultural level; according to this strategy, ads are narratives with stories to tell and social conflicts to resolve.

  • There are three common mythical elements found in many types of ads:

      1. Ads incorporate myths in ministory form, featuring characters, settings, and plots

      2. Most stories in ads involve conflicts, pitting one set of characters or social values against another.

      3. Such conflicts are negotiated or resolved by the end of the ad, usually by applying or purchasing a product. In advertising, the product and those who use it often emerge as the heroes of the story.

X. Commercial Speech and Regulating Advertising

  • Commercial Speech- any print or broadcast expression for which a fee is charged to the organization or individual buying tie or space in the mass media.
  • Infomercials- thirty-minute late-night and daytime programs that usually feature fading TV and music celebrities, who advertise a product in a format that looks like a talk show.


  1. Critical Issues in Advertising

    • Advertising seems to be all-powerful but at times the consumers out smart the companies.

    • Like when Oldsmobile targeted its campaign toward the younger generation and in return ended up losing some its older loyal costumers.

    • Studies have suggested that between 75 and 90% of new consumer products typically fail because they are not embraced by the buying public.

  1. Children and Advertising

    • Children are viewed as “consumer trainees”

    • TV shows are aired just to sell products, for example G.I. Joe, My Little Pony, Powerpuff Girls

    • Sugar-coated cereals have many parents worried because the ads are so appealing to children.

  2. Advertising in Schools

  • Channel One has become one of the most controversial developments in school recently.

  • Posters, folders, film strips, are all things that companies give out to schools in order to promote their products.

  1. Health and Advertising

  • Eating Disorders- showing everything on little skinny models or buff guys give out a certain stereotype to young people and causes health issues with eating.
  • Tobacco- Tobacco ads disappeared from TV in 1971 due to pressure by Congress. Joe Camel was used to try to reach children, Eve and Virginia Slims were trying to reach women consumers, and Uptowns were trying to reach African Americans. They have some kind of cigarette out there for every group. This has caused many lawsuits. And has started anti-tobacco ads such as the Truth Campaign. In 2005, tobacco companies spent $15.4 billion on U.S. advertisements, more than twenty times the amount spent on anti-tobacco ads.


  • Alcohol- people have accused a lot of alcohol ads, such as the Budweiser frogs, as being cartoonish and targeting children. Once again there are alcohol ads for every group of people. A national study released in 2006 said “that young people who see more ads for alcoholic beverages tend to drink more.”

  • Prescription Drugs- ads for prescription drugs have made names like Nexium, Claritin, Paxil, and Viagra household names. A lot of people think that people shouldn’t know these unless their doctor prescribes them because the patient needs them.

  1. Watching Over Advertising

  • Commercial Alert is a group that watches for big advertisement deals that are threatening to consumers. They caught the Sony and Major League Baseball deal over Spider-Man and told people to boycott Sony. The deal ended up being dropped.

  • Commercial Alert is just one of many non-profit watchdog and advocacy organizations.

  1. Product Placement

  • Product companies and ad agencies have become adept in recent years at strategically placing ads in movies, TV shows, comic books, and video games so they appear as part of a story’s set environment.

  1. Advertising’s Threat to Journalism

  • Advertisers can threaten journalist with their business if they try to publish anything that reflects poorly on their company.

  1. Advertising and the Internet

  • Interstitials- advertisements that pop up in a new screen window as a user attempts to access a new Web page.

  • Spam- a computer term referring to unsolicited e-mail.

  1. Alternative Voices
  • “The Truth” campaign has become a leader in alternative voices against advertisements. They are targeting the tobacco companies.

XI. Advertising, Politics, and Democracy

  • Political advertising- the use of ad techniques to promote a candidate’s image and persuade the public to adopt a particular viewpoint.



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