Models of the advertising process

Date of publication: June 15, 1991

Author: Timothy Joyce


In 1967 I gave a paper with the title "What do we know about how advertising works?" to an ESOMAR seminar on advertising research. That paper queried a number of assumptions about advertising which were then still prevalent: such as advertising as "converting" the consumer, step by step through a rational process leading from awareness to favourable attitudes to action, and the consumer as a passive receiver of information or as a learner. A more complex and human view based on modern research results in social psychology, and on experience of actual advertising research findings, was proposed instead. There seems little reason to change the basic conclusions of that paper of almost 25 years ago. However, much has changed over the period, affecting both the advertising environment, and available advertising research methods and data. Some recent thinking about advertising research and some important basic research results are reviewed in this paper, and summarized in the Conclusions section. The paper ends with a return to emphasis on fmcg advertising, and a discussion of short-term and long-term effects, with the suggestion that we can usefully think of two ways in which advertising works: in the short term, by enhancing the Presence of the brand; and in the long term, by enhancing its Presentation.

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