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Checks on advertising

Checks on advertising

The answer is that there are two very effective checks on advertisements, neither of which cripple, nor even interfere, with legitimate business adver-tising, but both of which in the long run kill the unscrupulous firm.

The first check is competition. Whatever you are at liberty to say, your rivals are also at liberty to say. The more you advertise, the more they will advertise. The market’s wallet will be divided between you and your rivals and you will only secure a larger proportion of it if your advertisement is more effective than the others.

Now, as you no doubt know, effective advertisements can be very costly. The purchase of space and the creativity involved in generating striking ad-verts can run into the thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Good copywriters, visual designers, technicians and producers cost money, and the better they are at their work the more they usually charge. So, at the risk of generalising, only those firms with a sound, reputable business can stand the financial strain indefinitely, and although temporary abuses are frequent, on the whole and in the long run competition provides a check on the power of advertising.

The second check is in the nature of the product or service itself.
Worthless articles can be sold for a time via a gigantic advertising campaign, no doubt about it. Late-night television survives on infomercials, not every product in them worthy of the claim, “best in the world.”

But unless the products and services you are selling reach a certain standard of worth, then no matter how often and for how long you advertise them people will not go on buying them for ever.

Sure, abuses are widespread, for it is possible to sell a very large number of comparatively worthless articles before the great unwashed public becomes aware that it has been taken in; it’s possible, in fact, to make a fortune by such methods. But again, on the whole and in the long run, the values of the product or service you are selling exercises a definite check on the power of your advertising.


Selling products via the internet has proved an interesting case study on how consumers can kill an unscrupu-lous advertiser. Nearly all internet transactions are processed by credit card, so if the purchaser is unhappy, they need only to contact their credit card company to reverse the transac-tion. Too many ‘chargebacks’ and an online merchant rapidly finds out that the public doesn’t value their product. The online retailer still has to pay for hosting of the website and merchant fees on the initial transaction, so they can very quickly find themselves fac-ing a very large loss.

Unfortunately, few of the general public learn from their experiences. Despite the fact that they may have been deceived in the past, they still let themselves be persuaded in the pre-sent and they pay for their gullibility very heavily.

Suggestion is far more effective if it is backed up by what I call ‘prestige’ ap-peal. I’ll go into ‘prestige’ in more detail a little later in this ebook; here I’ll just concern myself with the meaning of the phrase.

If a well known ‘celebrity’ figure can be persuaded to sing the praises of a product or service, people who admire the celebrity’s accomplishments can be easily persuaded to buy it.

Thus a famous athlete may lend his name to advertising sports shoes. It will be implied, and it may even be directly asserted, that his successes have been due to those sports shoes. All those people who admire his achieve-ments and wish to emulate them will be strongly influenced by the prestige of his name.

Even when there is no direct link between the product and the celebrity, such as the musician Sting advertising a brand of beer in Japan, advertisers will still aim to suggest to the Japanese public that they, too, can be as cool, successful or whatever ‘brand’ image Sting has in their minds if they too drink the same beer.


Back to the Value of reputable advertising  :   On to Familiar faces in advertisements




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