Appealing Advertising As An Art
In the contemporary world, advertisements are an integral part of daily life as they surround people virtually everywhere. Moreover, they are constantly viewed by the individuals in printed editions, online magazines, web search engines, TV commercials during breaks, in the streets, on packages in supermarkets, on billboards, and in any other places that people visit and see. In fact, advertisements have become so common that most people tend to ignore them and do not even grasp their meaning and message. Only truly remarkable and outstanding advertisements can break this tendency and draw the attention of the public, as well as become memorable and manipulate individuals’ subconscious so that they could develop a desire to purchase some goods. However, advertisements for different groups of products follow their own rules and principles of design with account for peculiarities and wishes of the targeted audience. The most remarkable distinction is evident between luxury goods and common goods even though recently such distinction has become blurry. It is caused by the fact that many advertisers use basically the same appeals to make people buy the advertised product. Hence, appealing advertising is a true piece of art, but only some advertisements based on the basic proven appeals can successfully manipulate people and make them purchase both luxury and common goods even when they do not really need them.
Nowadays, there is no exact statistical data as to the amount of advertisements that people see every day, but as of 1998 an average American was exposed to approximately 500 advertisements of all types daily (Fowles). Today, this number is definitely much higher, yet psychologists have proved that a human being can be aware of only 75 advertisements per day, while the rest is filtered by the subconscious and is simply ignored (Fowles). With such limitations, creators of advertisements have to develop some unique advertising products that would attract people’s attention, while also encouraging them to buy the advertised products. Peculiarities of the nation as a whole should also be taken into consideration as it is impossible to develop an advertising campaign that would be equally successful and appealing all over the world. According to Jack Solomon, American advertisers, just like any other successful advertisers, can be called “masters of desire”, since they not only appeal to inherent desires of customers, but also evoke such desires through various manipulative methods (Solomon). In fact, the researcher claims that the American advertising is unique in terms of taking into consideration the two-faced nature of the American nation, which is simultaneously “communally egalitarian” and “competitively elitist” (Solomon).
Hence, the Americans want to be a part of the social group to which they belong and need to feel the sense of belonging in order to feel safe. Such need serves as a basis for advertisements promoting common products that are used by everyone, for instance, relatively cheap watches or affordable jeans. Although most cars are considered to be premium products due to their high prices in the world, the Americans tend to believe that having a car is a necessity and most of them can afford buying a car. In turn, premium-class cars are already viewed as luxury products and status symbols. These and other status symbols serve as the basis for advertisements appealing to the elitist desires of consumers and their need to stand out in the society. Since the democratic society promotes equality of citizens, the only way individuals can stand out is through the purchase and use of status symbols, i.e. luxury products. The matter is that not everyone can afford spending thousands of dollars for purchasing a luxury product, such as a really posh or sports car, a mansion, or a watch with diamonds. In order to create and launch successful advertising campaigns in the USA, advertisers need to realize the two-faced nature of the Americans, as well as be aware of how to cater for the desires and needs of their target population without alienating potential customers. It is important to understand that even if they cannot currently afford purchasing their products, they can become their customers in the future.
In addition to awareness of national peculiarities, advertisers should be capable of exploiting the most effective and efficient appeals. Job Fowles has synthesized a list of fifteen basic appeals of advertising based on his longitudinal study of commercials and advertising campaigns. He claims that “every ad is a variation on one of a limited number of basic appeals” and that “an advertising message contains something primary and primitive, an emotional appeal, that in effect is the thin end of the wedge, trying to find its way into a mind” (Fowles 76). Such an idea is consistent with Solomon’s views about advertising. Thus, the fifteen basic appeals of advertising include appeals to such human needs as the ones “for sex, for affiliation, to nurture, for guidance, to aggress, to achieve, to dominate, for prominence, for attention, for autonomy, to escape, to feel safe, for aesthetic sensations, to satisfy curiosity, and physiological needs” (Fowles). These appeals can be combined in different ways to account for peculiarities of the target population, including their national peculiarities, such as the Americans’ two-faced nature.
All the above mentioned features that make advertising appealing can be traced on the example of real-life advertising campaigns launched in the USA in different years and by different brands. The first dichotomy of advertisements to be considered consists of Apple Watch advertisement and Timex watch advertisement presented in chosen pictures from their advertising campaigns in Figures 1 and 2 below.
The products of these two brands belong to different price categories of goods with Apple Watch currently being positioned as a luxury product and fashionable must-have that can compete with watches presented by jewelry brands. Without doubt, there are some exceptions to such positioning in regard to the watches at the lower price range, but still they are considered to be elitist by nature as all other Apple products. It marks a change in the company’s brand positioning as previously some of its goods were advertised as the ones that were needed and could be afforded by any American.
Pictures from Figure 1 were shown in the March edition of Vogue and the entire advertisement took twelve pages printed on a thicker paper and showing different versions of Apple Watch with a particular focus on the elite version with gold and diamonds. The advertising strategy employed by Apple in this case resembles the advertising campaign of Cadillac Allante in Time analyzed by Solomon. Such advertisements seem to “say ‘I’m special …’ even before we’ve begun to read it” (Solomon). The first page of the advertisement includes only the company logo and the word ‘watch’ as if to signify that all readers would immediately understand what product is going to be advertised. Besides, it denotes that the product does not need any presentation, which is supported by the lack of any technical specifications or prices under pictures. The advertisement seems to assume that those individuals who desire the product buy it not for its technical specifications, which are guaranteed to be superior due to the brand’s reputation of a technologically advanced innovator, but for the prestige it symbolizes. The focus is on the look of watches rather than on their utility, which is common for prestige products advertising. In terms of basic appeals, the advertisement appeals to the need to dominate in life, to achieve success in all domains, to prominence in the group, and aesthetic sensations granted by wearing the watch.
Apple Watch advertisements in Vogue (King)
In its turn, Timex advertisement presents a common product that is affordable to anyone due to its relatively low price. However, the company does not position its watches as something insignificant. On the contrary, it is appealing to the sense of belonging and affiliation with the group without compromising quality. Thus, the watch advertising campaign is entitled Wear It Well and it was featured not only in The New York Times, from which the picture in Figure 2 has been derived, but across a variety of mediums, including printed sources, Internet websites, billboards, etc. The advertisement states that “You know the difference between a lunch date and a date date”, implying also that their customers know the difference between Timex watches and other watches (Elliott). Thus, the advertising campaign attempts to combine the Americans’ desire to be egalitarian and elitist by positioning its products as goods available for everyone, yet as high quality goods with superb mechanisms inside. It also emphasizes the value of traditional watches as compared to various digital watches that have been extremely wide-spread in the market. However, it should be noted that the advertisement also exploits the appeal to sex to some extent, which, according to Fowles, envisions featuring physically attractive females with seductive facial expressions or postures in advertisements. Besides, the advertisement uses the word date, which also hints at the romantic relationships. Other appeals include those for aesthetic sensations granted by traditional watches and autonomy derived from being punctual and knowing the time.
Timex ad in The New York Times (Elliott)
Overall, the two advertisements under consideration are different in terms of advertising strategies and appeals they use, but they both take into consideration peculiarities of their target audience. Apple and Timex have created memorable and eye-catching appeals, but Apple is more successful in terms of presenting an elitist-oriented advertisement that stands out due to its elegant simplicity and implied value of the product. Timex’s advertisement seems to be typical for the current watch market and even for the general advertising industry as it shows a pretty woman wearing the advertised product in a black-and-white image. As a result of such typicality, the advertisement may be overlooked and ignored by viewers who have already seen a great number of similar advertisements. At the same time, the slogan of the Timex’s advertising campaign is catchy and certainly attracts attention of the brand’s loyal customers.
The US Audi Advertising Campaign
The same attempt to combine the two facets of the American nature described by Solomon is evident in the US Audi advertising campaign. Traditionally, cars can be viewed as status symbols, “signs that identify their possessors’ place in a social hierarchy, markers of rank and prestige” (Solomon). In the past, cars and their advertisements used to be divided into the ones targeting the elite and the ones targeting the rest, i.e. ordinary Americans of socioeconomic statuses lower in comparison to the top 1 percent of citizens. Nevertheless, the contemporary world has turned cars into a necessity, while middle class families do not want to choose between convenience and design any more. Audi’s recent advertising campaign for Audi SQ7 shows that it is possible to use one model of the car for various purposes, including family use and racing. The campaign is entitled “The Chase” and is available for view on YouTube, as well as across other platforms. Its motto is “Audi. The brand everyone is chasing” (Audi USA). In this advertisement, a family is shown driving SQ7 along the highway, which is suddenly caught in the middle of the chase between Captain America and Black Panther, as well as a number of their pursuers who all drive the same model of Audi. This advertisement is remarkable in terms of the appeals it uses to influence the target audience.
- First of all, it positions the car as universal and targets middle-class families with children for whom such a car would be convenient. At the same time, it shows that the car is extremely fast and can easily maneuver in the middle of the chase or in traffic jams. Hence, it can also be used by speed lovers and various services, such as the secret services from the Marvel movie.
- Secondly, it positions the car as fashionable, since it is shown in red and black and its elegant curves are highlighted by the footage.
- Thirdly, the advertisement refuses from using gender stereotypes, since the woman is shown driving the car, while her husband sits beside her and says to their children that one of the reasons why he loves their mother is her superb driving skills. In such a way, Audi breaks the traditional stereotype that men are excellent drivers compared to women.
- Fourthly, the advertisement combines the Americans’ love for cars with their love for comic-based action movies as it shows the previously unseen footage from the new Marvel’s film about Captain America. Such a move would definitely draw the attention of viewers of all ages who anticipate the release of the film, while making the advertisement memorable. It may also encourage them to share the video with their friends, thereby ensuring exposure of the larger audience to the advertising campaign.
- Finally, the advertisement is different from most car commercials as it does not use the appeal to sex in any way. In turn, it appeals to autonomy, aesthetic sensations, achievement, safety, and dominance with the latter being manifested in the need to dominate over the road and over the car.
The Audi brand is definitely prestigious and its products are desired by many car lovers. Nevertheless, the advertisement under consideration manages to appeal to both egalitarian and elitist moods. From the perspective of egalitarianism, it shows that virtually anyone can own such a car. At the same time, it satisfies the elitist desires as owners of such cars would definitely stand out in the traffic and be regarded as lucky owners of the prestigious model. This advertisement differs from the one of Cadillac Seville, in which “an elegantly dressed woman” “with a satisfied smile on her face” is shown “out for a drive with her husband”, which creates an impression of arrogance (Solomon). In turn, characters shown in the Audi advertisement do not look arrogant and superior to other people even though their car is shown superior due to its technical characteristics and easy maneuverability.
Withal, it seems that advertising of different products and types can be made appealing, if their creators use appropriate methods and advertising strategies. Each product requires the use of specific techniques based on peculiarities and desires of the target audience. Consequently, all appeals used in contemporary advertisements can be reduced to fifteen basic factors used in different combinations. The analysis of three advertisements above shows that the current strategy of advertising has partially changed as compared to the past by moving away from a clear distinction between advertisements appealing to the elitist moods and advertisements appealing to the egalitarian moods. It is true even regardless of the fact that it is still possible to distinguish between prestige products and ordinary products. However, the ability to distinguish between status and common products seems to depend on the type of the product. Nevertheless, further studies are needed to reach definite conclusions in this respect.
Analysis of two different watches shows that appeals used by the advertisers differ on whether the brand is positioned as prestigious or available for all. Apple Watch is advertised as a fashionable and prestigious product, while Times advertises its watches as a product available for all consumers. In turn, the above analysis of the Audi commercial shows that its creators attempt to appeal to both sides of the American nature determined by Solomon and position their cars as luxury available to all. Besides, the Audi advertisement moves away from a traditional car advertising appeal to sex and focuses on other issues that would cover a larger audience of viewers and ensure larger profits for the company. Therefore, it seems that the choice of elements used to make advertising appealing depends on the brand’s preferences and objectives, as well as target customers’ desires. Moreover, professional advertising can manipulate customers by evoking a desire to possess the product through using appropriate appeals and advertising strategies.