I think that advertising is a field that often gets a bad rap. In my experiences, people like to complain about ad placement (how many of you really like watching the ads before a YouTube video?) and they often TiVo through the commercials when watching their favorite shows. They may also believe that advertisers and marketers are simply out to trick consumers into buying stuff they don’t need. While sometimes this may seem true (will that product from the infomercial really dramatically improve my life?) I think advertising is so much more than just trying to get people to buy things.
I like to view advertising as a form of bonding. Humans are emotional beings who like to become emotionally connected, but oftentimes people see businesses (especially large corporations who do most of the advertising) as cold and impersonal. And it’s hard to connect to a business that can’t find a way to relate to its customers. In a legal sense, corporations are considered individuals–they pay separate taxes, they can be sued, and they have legal rights. Just like people, each corporation also has a distinct personality.
I know it sounds strange, because most people don’t think of businesses as having human traits. But when you consider the campaigns of major companies, you’ll notice that they usually have a consistent trend, i.e. their ads are normally funny, serious, touching, controversial, etc. And their goal is to reach customers with similar personalities in order to “bond” with them. So, if I’m the type of person who loves having humor in my life, I’m more likely to connect with a company that has funny ads. Or if I’m more serious and would rather see all the facts up front, I’d be more interested in commercials that cut out all the frills and make their point clear and simple. It’s essentially like making a new friend. You want someone who “gets” you and understands your personality.
There are so many aspects of advertising that I find absolutely fascinating (far too many for a single post, or even for a single blog) but I think the most prominent reason why I love this field so much is that it allows customers to get a glimpse of the human side of business. It isn’t only about selling people stuff they don’t want or need or doing anything to make money. It’s about forming an emotional connection that has the ability to create a lifelong bond.