Friday, December 9, 2011

Blog #8: Critical, independent and creative thinking skills as consumers and professionals in advertising

By: Matthew Larson

                As consumers we are constantly changing our minds and decisions about how we spend money.  Advertising assists in the persuasion of thoughts and ideas.  All consumers are different locally, nationally, globally, and culturally.  With so much diversity, advertisers are constantly changings products and the messages that go along with them.  How advertisers keep up with all this diversity is how they make their money.  Marketing is a tool that has been used to gain access to consumer’s habits.  Once these habits are targeted, there are steps towards a final advertisement that is tailored to the needs of the customers.
                Not every advertisement will meet consumers’ expectations or needs.  But, messages aren’t meant to meet the criteria of all people.  Rather it creates groups that can be classified.  These groups then become the “target market”.   Target markets are then broken down even further to gain even more knowledge about consumers.  Here is an example, people who buy soda products.  A broad category but this is our target market, from there it becomes brand preference such as Coca-Cola or Pepsi.  Once brand preference is established then you can go even further as to figure out flavors of soda like Sierra Mist or Wild Cherry Pepsi.  Point being this is how advertising is established in a market. 
                With many categories and classifications there are also boundaries that have to be followed.  Companies often stretch these boundaries because the value of gaining a larger consumer market means more money in the scheme of things.  Marketers have started using real life situations and scenarios that consumers can relate to.  Messages have a shock value attached to them.  By placing a product or service on the same level that consumers can relate to this shocks them into at least checking out the brand.  Having seen a Go-Daddy commercial, men are given the impression of what happens next?  This value makes them want to check out the website. 
                Independently I am given choices to make as well, having knowledge of both sides allows me understand where messages are coming from and who they are trying to reach.  Not only are messages meant to maintain customers, but they are always trying to get more.  I feel as though advertising has become a competition.  The competition is to understand behavioral changes of consumers and then try to persuade them into believing that your product will benefit them with features that are attractive to their needs.  Challenges will always exist in marketing efforts because regulations by officials and government appointed agencies. 
                My thinking process has changed because of some of the research that I conducted opened my mind to things.  Advertising reaches me through humorous messages that get me to recall the time I laughed while watching an ad.  I then remember these messages as I am shopping and help me establish loyalty to that product.  Another way that messages reach me is by shocking me with something that maybe stretches the limit.  To me, advertising has changed the way I view messages and breakdown an ad.  As I grow and change the messages also have a different effect on me.  Messages will continue to grow and change with me.  Only time will show how I respond to new advertisements and marketing efforts.  If I become a part of the marketing profession I will be adversely changed in how I create ideas for other people to observe. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Blog #7: The First Amendment Rights, Responsibilities, Limitations and other Legal Issues in Advertising

By: Matthew Larson
                People in America have always enjoyed many freedoms.  These freedoms range from speech or expression to the right of owning a gun.  The United States Constitution states that in the first amendment we are granted freedom of speech.  But, where do these boundaries of freedom stop.   In advertising there is no freedom of speech and the boundaries are not limitless.  Why is it that we can have this freedom, but when a company tries to display a message there are guidelines? 
                It is simple, companies already have the power over influence and if we granted companies the ability to say whatever they wanted then censorship and all the rules would head out of the door.  Therefor there are laws in place that assist the guidelines set by organizations appointed by the government.  But, in Washington who is the ultimate decision maker?  There is a set of individuals that regulate the freedoms we have.  If someone were to get murdered in an advertisement then there would be great concern from viewers.  However what about if someone gets murdered in a real life setting, or how about a group of protesters speaking aloud about something they feel very strongly about.  If a business wants to speak out in some fashion against something they believe in though it’s considered unethical and immoral. 
                Advertising is interpreted as a distinct form of speech, which could and should be protected by the right to free speech.  However there are some exceptions lies in advertising, certain types of advertising for kids, advertising for harmful products, and hidden persuaders.  These are types of advertising that very apparently cause harm. They take away people’s freedom of choice at an often very deep and unconscious level. They harm people’s health and they mislead people and force them to buy stuff that they really don’t find necessary to buy. The freedom to increase one’s profit doesn’t outweigh the benefits of limiting these kinds of advertising.  It is a general rule that the freedom of one shouldn’t limit the freedom of another.
Historically, advertising has not received the same constitutional protection as political speech, one form of free speech the Founding Fathers had in mind when they drafted the First Amendment. Political speech was valued for its role in guiding us toward a more just, democratic society, "a more perfect union." But, over the past few decades the courts have taken a different view, granting free speech rights to commercial interests.  It is both limiting and is not clear on how congress can take a position to limit advertising speech rights.  Stations could be the censor rather than the government.  It is a belief of many that we should be given the right to hear what we choose and say what we want to say. 
There is no indication that a true freedom of speech will be granted to advertising.  Laws will continue to be made and passed limiting what we can really see, and though there are many companies and businesses that stretch the boundary of this freedom.  I will remain to be seen if someone will break this boundary with an effective and very appealing message.  People have to take the initiative to create a society in which we can be able to hear all kinds of speech on every platform and on many levels.

Limiting Free Speech (15): Restricting Advertising Posted on January 29, 2009 by Filip Spagnoli

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blog Entry #6: Ethical Issues in Advertising

By: Matthew Larson
                People in advertising spend a lot of time handling ethical issues, and those issues are almost never crystal clear. They're subtle, shades-of-gray issues that have a great weight on the success of a message.  My first example of an ethical issue comes from an infamous Volvo commercial.  In a real-life monster truck show, the Volvo was the only car left uncrushed; this was a great idea for a commercial! However, the film company needed to shoot several takes.  So they reinforced the beams inside the car to withstand the continuous crushing.  When released to the press, Volvo was furious and their ad agency got fired, ultimately going out of business.  There was no doubt that the demo was rigged. But, what it showed was the truth: if a monster truck runs over you once, are you safer in the Volvo?
                As consumers we are exposed to these types of messages and ad campaigns daily.  Finding out that a message isn’t ethical or that it is falsely demonstrating a product or service could be detrimental to a business’s appearance.   Therefore, ad companies continuously monitor their messages and even before they break out for consumers to view they are tested.  An ethical brainteaser that consumers deal with every day is "What can you simulate and entice to illustrate the truth?" Before you answer "nothing!” one could ask themself if a higher purpose would be served if Pampers and Kotex commercials showed the real thing instead of that fake blue water.  There are just some things that can’t be shown.
                Ads for reputable companies are almost never false. They have to be able to prove what they say to their own corporate counsel.   Ad agencies have lawyers, and network approval committees that work regulating alongside the FDA and the FTC. With at least five different government agencies looking over advertisings shoulder, the cost of being caught cheating is simply too high. In addition, the individuals inside a company want to be able to look at themselves in the mirror. Some like to think of business people as belonging to some other species, but remember that most of them are you a few years from now.  The simple fact is that humans possess feelings.  We are emotionally charged and anything could offend consumers, so ethics is an ongoing issue for advertising companies. 
                Advertising, like human beings, lives where reason meets desire. A few years ago, Coca-Cola invented a better product.  No consumer product had ever been so thoroughly tested with so many consumers. This new Coke was proven to be much better. But consumers not only didn't buy it, they demonstrated against it. A lot of what they loved about "real" Coke wasn't inside the bottle.  It was the idea of Coke and their experiences with it and how those experiences were connected to so much of what we imagine life in America should be like. Advertising isn't just about the things we buy. It's about how we feel about things, including ourselves.  It’s the image associated with any advertisement we see, we place ourselves in that role.  We can physically go to that place in time and exist because of the image projected.
                Ethical issues in advertising cover a wide variety of areas.  Advertisers have to be careful how they advertise tobacco, alcohol, condoms and pharmaceuticals.  A common misconception is that tobacco ads should be outlawed from particular magazines and television stations.  However, these business’s make money based on the consumers they can get to smoke.  Same goes for alcohol, the only way they can make money is by promoting beer and hard liquor during sporting events and other heavily watched television programs.  So how do these companies get a positive message across?  Recently alcohol companies started putting drink responsibly after the ad runs on air.  This is just an added safety precaution.   Issues of ethics will always exist in advertising; consumers will always be sensitive to certain material.  Companies will continue to deal with consumers and their relation to products.   

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Blog #5: Global Culture and Diversity in Advertising

By: Matthew Larson
                Global Culture is a contributor to the diversity of advertising.  Globalization of advertising has reshaped the way messages are received by consumers.  Westernization has also contributed to the diversity of advertising in foreign nations.  Strong cultural countries such as China, Japan and India have been positively influenced by western ideas in advertising.  Since business is conducted more globally, there has been emphasis on structuring advertising and marketing campaigns around specific cultures.  Messages are tailor to fit the consumer profile for a country.  Influences are triggered by brand image, product relevancy and consumer behavior. 
                Since consumers play such a vital role in advertising.  Many global companies look to the culture of where an advertising campaign will be released.  An example of this would be subjecting the consumers of India to beef products.  Beef is considered a sacred animal in some cultures of India.  Therefore, a marketing campaign for McDonald’s hamburgers would be irrelevant to the culture of India.  This is not limited to just McDonald’s customers in India.  Worldwide there are many subcultures that have values and beliefs, so for companies to maintain a successful stance in the global marketplace they have to sympathize with the cultural background of a country or even community. 
                With so many different countries with so many different cultures the United States has become a melting pot.  Most worldwide business is in some way connected to the western culture.  America’s influence in the worldwide market spreads from fashion to food.  The influence that America has on the rest of the world began when the rest of the world came to America.  This is where the melting pot theory is defined.  There are many companies that conduct their business in America.  This has to do with import/export, business to business and business to consumer.  Diversity begins with the consumers and since there are so many cultures in the U.S.  Messages are made general and open to the public.
                Advertisements begin to go through a sorting process.  Messages are sorted and placed into categories of where they will be most successful and reach the largest market.  Placement of Ads contributes to the diversity as well.  Having an advertisement for snow tires in Miami, Florida would be quite inappropriate; therefore messages need to be specifically placed in society so that they can reach their maximum potential.  This occurs globally in all cultures.  Each culture is defined by value and beliefs established many years ago.  Culture evolves with time, but there are still many factors that tie into the roots of a culture.
                On the other hand some view globalization as threatening.  The idea comes from a vision that if everyone is doing the same thing then one idea can be followed.  This erases any diversity and constricts the limits of culture.  By assuming everything will be just one control can be gained by companies. Multi-national corporations promote a certain kind of consumerist culture, in which standard commodities, promoted by global marketing campaigns exploiting basic material desires, create similar lifestyles--"Coca-Colanization"
                It it’s the idea that because consumers can maintain an identity of individualism. In turn, it drives companies to further their research of lifestyles and cultural backgrounds.  Penetration into society creates a basic profile that assists companies in gaining domination of an entire market.  The world is changing because of technology and the ability for more people to be exposed to the same things.  Diversity exists in small pockets of society.  Global, regional, and local all contribute to the movement of diversity.  Global Culture gathers at the melting pot know as America.  It remains to be seen that society will shift towards a single view.  Only consumers and the way people spend their money will dictate the outcome of advertising from a global approach.

Global nature, global cultures Franklin, C Lury… - 2000 - Sage Publications Ltd
Global Scan: The Globalization of Advertising Agencies, Concepts and Campaigns, D A Leslie, Department of Geography, Brock University, St. Catherine’s, Ontario Canada

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blog Entry #4 Approaches to Marketing Research Methods

By: Matthew Larson
                Marketing research is the basis to all marketing concepts.  It is a tool that helps business flow and allows companies to understand consumers.  Through constant study it is the idea that trends can be made and through extensive research new methods of marketing can be developed.  With understanding comes a battle of numbers and figuring out whether something is qualitative or quantitative.   While consumers maintain a consistent buying habit, research continues to grow and expand.  It is hard to determine if information being gathered is tangible or not.  Validation plays a key role in gaining trust from the consumer. 
Marketing research also plays a critical role in the financial end of businesses and their relationship to the consumer.  By spending money on research companies can make money back by effectively.  Financial gains can also be made with the information gather.  Knowing where consumers are going to be putting their money can greatly affect the marketing concept a business will come out with.  So by knowing where people have been, the marketing messages can be driven to tell a consumer where to go.  This completes the cycle of consumers putting their money in and getting it back through information gain in purchases made by customers.  Such companies that handle all this research and manage all this information make up a 5.5 billion dollar revenue sharing.  That means that research and understanding consumer behavior is a major part of marketing functions.
                Advertising research defines objectives of products and gives clarity and understanding of target markets, product placement and advertising media.  Target markets are a wide variety of consumers that buy a certain product, or even maybe an entire brand.  Business objectives are more directed towards how to gain competitive advantages over another brand or business in the particular industry.  Research also gains insight to what other brands or products are doing to maintain their image or even become better.  The objectives are all similar from business to business.  All businesses need to stay competitive with one another to maintain a healthy consumer environment. 
                Evaluation of research is done by numbers and how much consumers will buy on any given day or week.  Paying attention to trends, being aware of what competitors in an industry are doing, and finding comparative data between market leaders are all very time consuming processes.  Therefore, companies hire specific businesses to handle the large volume of information.  A company such as Hoover’s ( handles 40,000 companies marketing plans and research.  That’s just one major marketing research firm.  There are many more that handle specific companies and brands.  With all that data being handled by just one firm.  There is a better understanding for where economic trends are going and if a business is successful with a campaign.
                Marketing research is the function that links the consumer to the business and the business to the research information based on consumer history.  The cycle is ongoing, constant information is being utilized to persuade and pursue new clients(  Consumers continually change their buying habits.  This is caused by the rapidly changing technology and new innovative delivery mechanisms. 
               Time is the real factor for marketing research, time changes everything.  As consumers shift in age, buying habits, and taste change.  Marketing research will continue to be as adverse as marketing itself, and while it is certain that the information obtained overtime might help predict future trends, the ever changing consumer world will be driven by marketing efforts themselves.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blog #3 Explaining Advertising through Theory

By: Matthew Larson
            Advertising is made up of many ideas and thoughts.  These thoughts and ideas are processed by consumers through messages displayed in advertising.  With so much diversity on how these messages should be delivered, many theories have been generated.  But, it goes much deeper than just messages being received by a consumer.  Consumers have been adapting to the way messages are presented for since advertising began.  Over time there have been shifts of persuasion through certain channels of needs identification.
            Maslow’s Hierarchy demonstrates these needs with a pyramid.  At the bottom of the pyramid is the physiological need.  This need deals with consumer’s most basic needs.  Shelter, food, and the most basic essentials are a necessity.  Next, the second layer deals with safety.  Consumers are driven by habit to remain safe with most products that are purchased.  The last three with dominate the top of the pyramid are love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.  People possess certain perceptions about how they will be seen from many viewpoints.  While it is certain that humans will not change their habits of buying certain products, it can be derived that this is something that advertisers model their messages after. 
            It is thought that the post-world war period is what influenced this theory.  People view themselves in terms of classes, and life stage.  By knowing and utilizing this; advertising could be tailored to meet the needs of consumers based on the category the product would be placed in.  Super markets soon became the melting pot for most advertising.  With the most basic, to the most wanted needs available at super markets.  Advertising became competitive with the knowledge and understanding that consumers have a set of needs.  Competition led to the development of brand families.  This was created to manage specifically targeted items that consumers frequently purchased. 
            Values were also established as a separate theory.  The idea was tied together with lifestyles and lifestyle changes.  It resulted in the VALS assessment created by the ad agency Young and Rubicam.  Using VALS requires the four C’s, Cross Cultural Consumer Characterization.  Through survival, escape, security, status, control, individuality, and self-expression, it is easier to decide on what values mean the most to people.  Attraction to different brands is played out through the 7 levels of value.  But, this attraction can be identified through what type of message consumers respond too. 
            Consumers also respond to the communication style.  This is the way in which a message is translated to the consumer.  It can be done through tone of voice, use of space, color, dictation and mood of the ad.  Certain keywords have also been found to work better than others.  In Rob McMinn’s interpretation of theories he states that words such as “healthy” and “simple” are words that consumers find most attractive in recent years.  Throughout the years people have responded to the reflection of the economy and how global and national governments have run.  When money is tight, words have been used to ease this emotional stress; nevertheless it proves that people won’t change their habit of spending money as long as the messages are tailored to their situation. 
            Security is also a theory in itself.  The security of consumer’s well-being exists because they know that products will be delivered the same way every time.  Same with the messages that display the products, people desire a need for consistency.  Sometimes stepping outside the lines and having a powerful message will reach consumers on more than an emotional level.  But, it can be certain that while consumers remain habitual with their buying process.  Security also assists with the status of something.  When a brand has established itself with a good reputation, its status remains solid until a new product or something different evolves and replaces it.
            Theories of advertising remain as adverse as the messages they represent.  Through constant study and an initiative to further understand consumer’s behavior there will always been advancement in theory.  Progression and technology have rapidly assisted in this understanding.  Advertising had already supplied consumers and businesses with enough theories and knowledge that only understanding it more will make unstoppable in the marketing world.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blog #2 Changes: A Perspective on the History of Advertising

By: Matthew Larson

            Advertising has changed dramatically throughout its long history.  It has shown bold messages with enormous amounts of diversity over time.   The oldest forms of advertising date back to before America was even colonized. As times changed and people evolved, the messages being sent to people had to be more persuasive and powerful.  Technology was the main driver of how people viewed and responded to advertising.  During the 50’s when television first became popular, messages were heard and many people got to visualize what the advertisement was describing to them. While it is certain that when the television came out, advertising would be forever changed; there is still a place for other types of media to translate messages.
            Back in the early 1830’s a publisher for the New York Herald named James Gordon Bennett revolutionized advertising by utilizing advertising to lower the cost of newspapers.  This idea changed how long a newspaper would advertise a certain message.  By doing this, advertisers could determine the effectiveness of the messages from week to week or in some cases on a daily basis.  Bennett also understood the entertainment value behind having ads that changed constantly.  Bennett knew that because there were very few magazines and radio outlets, his newspaper could benefit from having attractive advertisements.  They were looked at for days and weeks after the initial issue date to see if there were effective messages. 
Along with the newspapers, other businesses also turned to advertising. Large department stores in rapidly expanding cities, assistend in creating new advertising styles.  Total advertising volume in the United States grew from about $200 million in 1880 to nearly $3 billion in 1920.  Clearly advertising was changing the way Americans spent money.  With money becoming a larger factor, advertising agencies were started to manage high profile clients and businesses.  High demand for specific marketing concepts grew and triggered a new area of copywriting thoughts, ideas and artwork displayed in ads. This led to the growth of American knowledge and a control of Advertising over Media.  
Usually the ads are trying to sell a product or basic idea, but this is only an initial response to the question. Does it aim to persuade readers to buy something for the first time or to switch brands? The tobacco industry, has consistently stated that the ads for their cigarettes are aimed at maintaining brand loyalty or inducing smokers to their products. The most famous movement in target audience came in 1955, when the Leo Burnett agency rejunvinated advertising for Marlboro cigarettes. Burnett introduced the Marlboro man, which portrayed a model of rugged a cowboy on horseback, smoking “a cigarette designed for men that women like.” Marlboro eventually became the world’s top-selling cigarette brand. The Marlboro man became a recognized icon for many years to follow.
            Television advertising is the most recent and most popular form of marketing in the 21st century.  Networks get paid to place advertisements in certain time slots to reach target markets.  This works out for marketing firms, businesses and network television stations, because everyone is eventually profiting from the advertising.  The marketing firm’s job is to create an effective message; overtime ad agencies have evolved in their deliveries and creativity of messages to effectively reach different target markets.  This reflection of businesses has positively helped growth and stabilization, it will continue be the largest way to reach consumers.
            Advertising will always change and develop new areas to display marketing concepts.  This history of ads has changed dramatically and is a direct reflection of how technology and consumers have evolved.  Continuation of this is critical for businesses as they are as advanced as the consumers.  New ideas and advancement will determine whether or not a company can survive in the ever-changing advertising world.

A Brief History of Advertising in America, by: William M. O'Barr , Advertising Educational Foundation 2005
Fleming, Thomas. "How It Was in Advertising: 1776-1976", Chicago: Crain Books, 1976 p.6
Goodrum, Charles and Helen Dalyrmple. Advertising in America: The First Two-Hundred Years. New York: Harry N. Adrams, 1990