Advertising is part of the modern competitive business world. Advertisements are messages, paid for by those who send them, intended to inform or influence people who receive them.

That is adverts contain a message. This message may be expressed in words – “Persil washes whiter”, or in pictures, music or jingles. “Jingle” is a very short simple song, usually of poor quality, especially as part of a radio or TV advertisement. Adverts are paid for directly by advertisers. This distinguishes advertising from other forms of publicity.

Advertisement will have a purpose – to inform or influence people they are aimed at: the target audience.

Many ads are trying or influence us. They try to persuade us e.g. to buy a particular brand of soft drinks or ice-cream. Others try to influence groups like drug addicts or smokers to change their habits.

In developed societies advertising is essential part of marketing products such as Coca-Cola, or Nike trainers. Businesses need to let us know what they have on offer and to persuade us to buy it.

New products are often launched with a national advertising campaign.

The government carries out a great deal of advertising. some government ads are merely to inform – perhaps to tell people about changes in social Security benefits. Others are more clearly aimed to persuade, like the ads promoting the use of condoms, for safer sex, or emphasising the dangers of drinking and driving. Charities like Oxfam advertise regularly to a rouse sympathy for those in need and to ask for money to help them. Huge sums of money are spent on advertising.

Many schools and hospitals advertise their car boot sales in the local newspaper. People who have a bike or computer to sell will put a classified ad in a paper or advertising magazine. For a small payment we can put an advert in the corner shop, offering our services as a baby-sitter or window-cleaner.

It is important that adverts are put out at the right time and in the right place in order to reach the right people. For example, fashion houses will advertise in women’s magazines like VOGUE, and software firms will target the readers of computer magazines.

More than half the money spent on advertising in the UK goes on the press- newspapers, magazines. The advantage of the press as a medium is that adverts can be re-read.

The next most important advertising medium is television. Voices, music and jingles can liven up the message. The advertiser will repeat the ad, sometimes several times in the evening. However, TV is an expensive medium and only the bigger companies advertise regularly.

Direct mail is advertising material that is sent direct to people’s homes (often called “junk mail”).

Many people find this form if advertising irritating and intrusive. But advertisers find it a useful way of reaching a selected number of people.

“Outdoor” advertisements – posters on hoardings, bus shelters and buses themselves – are part of the urban scene. Radio advertising is popular and relatively cheap. It is particularly good at reaching young people who listen to commercial channels.

Cinema advertising also reaches a young audience.

In the modern world, we have to live with advertising. We are part of the audience it is aimed at. We may enjoy it, or be irritated by it. The important thing is to understand how the advertising world works.


Some adverts made extravagant efforts to persuade. In the 18th century, this kind of overblown advertising was called “puffery”: Those who wrote it were “puffers”. Soon, columns of ads were part of every newspaper. Newspapers were often distributed through Coffee Houses, where men could meet and read, discuss news and business.

The 19th century saw the growth of poster advertising. Hoardings (=billboards) had to be licenced. Sandwich men walked the streets, carrying board advertising shops, high quality. In France, Toulouse-Lautrec painted famous colourful posters advertising Paris night-life. The First World War saw the use of advertising to encourage young men to join the armed forces.


Most big companies like Panasonic sell their goods and services throughout the world. So, the biggest advertising agencies operate on a world-wide basis. The advertising agency is the link between the firms that want to advertise and the media.

Advertisers want to discover the most effective techniques of persuasion, e.g.: A simple technique for fixing and idea in the memory is repetition.

The brand name of a product usually appears many times in the ad. Key words are often repeated several times, e.g. words like “fresh” or “country” in ads for cheese or yoghurt.

Another technique with a long tradition is the appeal to authority – e.g. some adverts for toothpaste claim that dentists recommended the product. People need to have confidence in ads and the use of doctors’ and nurses’ recommendations can boost a product.

TV ads often use humour to keep their audience watching. Plays on words are often used.

Advertisers know our basic needs and desires. For example the words “home” or “family” are often used because they suggest warmth, comfort and security.

Advertisers know that most people want (desire) to be physically attractive and this is constantly used in ads for cosmetics, clothes and beauty products, especially for women.

Advertising should be carefully controlled. Society needs to make sure that people are not taken in by misleading advertisements.

In GB there are over a hundred laws that regulate advertising. They say that advertisers must give a fair and honest description of the goods and services they promote.

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