Week 12.1 Key Points of the Advertising Program

Advertising is one of the promotional elements we have covered in the previous week. The way in which advertising is developed carries critical importance in marketing. Marketers develop advertising for businesses as a program in three steps:

  1. Identifying the target audience
  2. Designing the advertisement message
  3. Selecting the right media

Step 1: Identifying the Target Audience

The target audience is the center of attention in developing the advertising program. The characteristics of the prospective consumers are carefully specified since the goal of the advertising program is to influence the target audience. Marketers spend a great deal of time in understanding the needs, lifestyles, attitudes, and demographics of the target market. The decisions they make come from the market research about the target audience. For example, French Canadians are not very interested in DIY projects. Home Depot decided to change its advertising strategy in Quebec due to DIY not resonating with the target market. 

In some cases, the scheduling of the advertising program can strictly depend on the audience. 

Photo of person sneezing into tissue with ragweed in foreground.
Example: Allergy season varies from region to region. Producers of allergy medication, such as Claritin, pay attention to the timing in scheduling their in-store displays, coupons, and advertising. 

Step 2: Designing the Advertisement Message

The message in advertising should highlight the key benefits of the product. The benefits make the product attractive to a prospective buyer in making purchase decisions. The content of the message should have both informational and persuasive elements. Informational elements refer to the product name, benefits, ingredients, expiration date, and price. Persuasive advertisements focus on convincing a potential customer. Marketers use different appeals in persuading the customers. Commonly used appeals are fear appeals, sex appeals, and humorous appeals.

Fear appeals signal the danger of a situation that can be avoided through the purchase of the product/service.

Photo of automobile crashing into a pole.
Examples: Advertisements of smoke detectors showing a home burning and the tragic loss of lives and property. Another example would be social cause ads about drug and alcohol use. The ads contain tragic images of accidents, warning of the serious consequences of driving under the influence or texting while driving. 

Sex appeals highlight attractiveness. It is implied that the use of the product will enhance the attractiveness of the buyer. Sex appeal can be applied to a large variety of product categories from cosmetics to automobiles or even to toothpaste. 

Studies show that commercials that use sex appeal are successful at gaining the attention of the target market; however, they do not have much impact on how consumers think, feel, or act. 

Photo of female fashion model leaning against car.
Example: Using attractive people in car ads draws attention to the car and makes the car seem more desireable. 

Humorous appeals focus on fun and the funny side of products. It implies that the product will make your life fun and exciting. Marketers use humour with care. Jokes can easily become boring to consumers when they are repeatedly shown on the commercials. Humour also might be offensive to some people. Especially when advertising internationally, marketers give a lot of attention to the humour appetite of different cultures. Research shows that most consumers prefer humorous appeals over sex appeals.

Advertising poster of elephant standing on roof of house.

Example: This advertisement for Allianz, a German insurance company, uses humour to present a serious problem. 

The caption reads "Less funny, but just as heavy: 20 centimeters of snow on your roof," followed by, "Real estate insurance from Allianz. Covers against the consequences of snow loads."

Concept Check Questions:

1. Which of the following is NOT one of the three common advertising appeals?


2. Which of the following statements describes a potential problem when using humorous appeals in advertising?

Step 3: Selecting the Right Media

There are various media alternatives in advertising such as TV, newspapers, radio, direct mail, magazines, yellow pages, online, and outdoor. Businesses might choose to spend a part of their promotional budget in advertising. The figure below shows the distribution of the over $14 billion spent on advertising in Canada among the many media alternatives. 24% of the total expenditure is spent on advertising on TV while 27% is spent on online advertisements. Keep in mind that these percentages are not the number of businesses advertising, rather it is the proportion of total expenditures.  
The goal in advertising is to use a mix of media to maximize the exposure of the message to the target audience. The exposure can easily be maximized if the budget is unlimited. However, profit driven organizations feel the pressure of budget constraints. Remember that cost is reducing the profit. Maximizing exposure while minimizing costs is a difficult task to achieve. Marketers face these two conflicting goals which makes their job very challenging.  


Canadian advertising expenditures as a percentage of total ad spending. Online (27%), television (24%), newspapers (16.5%), radio (11.3%), direct mail (8.4%), outdoor (3.7%), consumer magazines (3.3%), yellow pages (3.0%), and other media (2.8%).