Justifying our advertising budgets

Date of publication: June 15, 1996

Abstract:

Two views of paid-for advertising are compared. One is commonly held but unachievable. The other is more realistic. The main aim of advertising is commonly thought to be growth, but this seldom occurs. The more realistic goal is brand maintenance in a highly competitive market. The growth would come from persuading consumers to buy your brand (a strong theory of advertising), but there is little evidence of this. In contrast, brand maintenance works through reinforcement and occasional nudging (a weak theory). Persuasion would work by differentiating brands (added values) to give people reasons for choosing them. The reinforcement view accepts instead that sales differ because a large brand is salient to more people, and not because they see brands as very different. Being salient (e.g. in people's consideration sets, etc.) can be affected by Here I am type of impactful publicity, leaving longer-term memory traces and possible associations for the brand, rather than by making one brand seem preferable or better than another.

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