Friday, September 22, 2017

Mara Einstein's "Advertising: What Everyone Needs to Know"

Mara Einstein is a Professor of Media Studies at Queens College, City University of New York. She brings more than twenty-five years of marketing and advertising experience to this work. She has worked as a senior marketing executive in both broadcast (NBC) and cable (MTV Networks) television as well as at major advertising agencies working on such accounts as Miller Lite, Uncle Ben's, and Dole Foods. Einstein's books include Compassion, Inc.: How Corporate America Blurs the Line between What We Buy, Who We Are, and Those We Help.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Advertising: What Everyone Needs to Know, and reported the following:
Page 99 gets to the fundamentals of how advertising is created. Who creates advertising, how do marketers decide what to say, and how does the creative team put the ad together.
Who is responsible for creating advertising?

Advertising is created by teams of two made up of a copywriter and an art director. Based on a strategy statement or creative platform, they will generate a number of creative concepts. These concepts must then pass through the gauntlet of the creative director (who oversees all campaigns within an account), the account team, and finally the client. Along the way, the concept may be shown to a focus group of prospective consumers.

How do marketers decide what to put in an ad?

Using a combination of market research (what is going on in the business environment) and marketing research (everything the company has learned about the target consumer), advertisers will develop a message that they hope will resonate with their target audience. This information is synthesized into a short document called a creative brief. The information in this document is what the creative team uses to come up with the advertising.

What exactly is contained in a creative brief?

A creative brief, sometimes called a creative platform or a strategy statement, provides a distillation of consumer research and defines the elements that need to be included in the advertising for the creative team. There are variations in the format, but it will always include an objective, a definition of the target audience, a detailed product description and how consumers relate to the product, a one- line promise or consumer benefit, an accompanying one- or two- line support statement, and either a description of the brand personality or a definition of what the tone and manner should be— that is, should the commercial be serious, funny, or irreverent. Other elements that may be included are competition and known problems that inhibit usage. Bottom line: the creative platform defines who the advertising is talking to and what the advertising should make consumers think, feel, or do after having seen it.
Advertising: What Everyone Needs to Know provides an overview of the advertising and marketing industries as well as tools to help readers understand advertising’s subtle, and not so subtle, impact on their life.

The prevailing wisdom is that Americans see upwards of 3000 advertising and marketing messages per day. And, while we may not be conscious of all these commercial messages as we walk the aisles of the supermarket or scan our Facebook feeds, they influence our product purchases—from cars to clothes to coffee. People’s preference for Starbucks over Dunkin Donuts, for example, has as much to do with the brand mythology created through marketing as it does with the flavor of the java. Our product usage has become building blocks for our personalities; as the commercial says, “I’m a Mac.”

Advertising is rarely based on product attributes. Coke doesn’t say it is a syrupy fizzy water, it sells the idea of happiness and friendship. Using emotion to sell products is a strategy that began over a hundred years ago and has been exacerbated by the use of technologies that rely on consumers to proliferate advertising messages via social media. The more angry or happy or awestruck we are, the more likely we will be to forward the advertising to our friends and family. Good examples here are Red Bull’s space jump or Dove’s “Sketch Artist.”

The more we use mobile devices—and we are using them at an increasing rate—the more we are faced with someone trying to sell us something. Ad blockers help to reduce the commercial assault, but as consumers got better at avoiding ads advertisers got better at hiding them. Confusion has gotten so bad that it is difficult to discern the difference between an ad and a news article, a legitimate recommendation or a paid Influencer tweet.

And while we surf and scan, advertisers scoop up our personal information, watch our every online move, connect that to our offline purchases, and then use all that data to sell us more stuff. The Internet is first and foremost an advertising platform—an idea many forget while watching the latest YouTube video or reading about the president’s latest tweet storm.
Learn more about Advertising: What Everyone Needs to Know at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Compassion, Inc.

--Marshal Zeringue