Advertising is an important part of our economy and plays a significant role in the mass media. In a fierce race to ensure that they outsell their competitors, companies are willing to pay large sums of money to reach audiences. In 2011, $496.9 billion was spent on advertising. By 2015, this figure is expected to reach $603.1 billion.

Audience is one of the key considerations when planning an advertising campaign. Companies cannot afford to spend millions of dollars on a poorly targeted advertising campaign.

Demographic is a word that advertisers use to describe a segment or slice of society. Generation Y, for example, consists of people born between 1980 and 2001. In advertising lingo, SINK stands for ‘Single Income, No Kids’ and DINK stands for ‘Double Income, No Kids’. An advertisement targeted at one demographic might not necessarily appeal to another and faces the risk of putting these audiences off the product.

One of the most important jobs of advertising is raising brand awareness and developing brand image. Our society is saturated with brands. Companies spend millions of dollars every year to ensure that consumers understand what their brand means.

Historically, brands emerged as a way for consumers to identify products that were safe and reliable. The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a “name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers”.

“I define ‘brand’ differently,” says marketer Natalie Robinson. “I define a brand as a set of images and associations that live in the hearts and minds of consumers. A brand isn’t just a trademark, it’s a set of images and associations that are created by consumers. Marketers try to influence what those images and associations are, through advertising, sponsorship, packaging, product placement, sales promotions and choice of retailer.”

Brands live in the hearts and minds of consumers. It’s what they think and feel about a product.

Brand equity is a term that businesses use to describe how much their brand is worth. Businesses recognise that brand is an important and valuable part of their business. Large corporations invest millions of dollars every year in their brand, particularly in making sure that people recognise and remember it.


Every year, the Canne Lion Interational Festival of Creativity gives an award to the most innovative, distinctive and effective advertisement in the world. Winners from previous years are listed below.


Created to promote the Playstation 2, this television commercial—which shows thousands of people scrambling over each other to form a mountain—was nominated for over forty awards. Sales of the Playstation 2 subsequently rose by three per cent.

HATE (HONDA, 2005)

A delightful animated commercial comparing old engines to the new, whisper quiet, more environmentally friendly offering from Honda. Across the United Kingdom, sales of all Honda products increased by thirty five per cent following the release of the commercial.


This advertisement for Guinness beer shows the evolution of humankind in reverse—implying that good things come to those who wait. Upon its launch, it received immense critical praise, winning over thirty awards.


Dove Evolution was created by advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather. The seventy five second ad is a time lapse sequence showing an ordinary woman being transformed into a supermodel using the techniques and proceedures often employed by beauty magazines. The advertisement received significant praise and garnered numerous awards.


A gorilla. A drum kit. And the Phil Collins classic ‘In the air tonight’. It was a simple concept which led to a swag of awards and viral marketing success.


Developed to promote a new range of televisions that have the same aspect ratio of cinema screens, this advertisement runs for two minutes and nineteen seconds as a camera tracks around a bank heist during which police clash with masked thieves.


‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’, which was shot entirely in one take and with very few digital effects, became a viral marketing hit which had attracted more than thirty million views on YouTube by 2011. It was so famous that even Grover on Sesame Street parodied it.


An elaborate commercial showing the high stakes of the soccer world cup.


Apple is a master at creating advertisements that build brand identity. One of the most famous advertisements in history is Apple’s television commercial to promote the release of the first Macintosh computer which screened during the Super Bowl in 1984. Given the size of the audience for this event, it costs companies an enormous amount of money to advertise during this time. Traditionally, many companies have used it as an opportunity to advertise new products. In 1984, it cost Apple a stunning $800,000 for a sixty second commercial. The advertisement itself, which was directed by director Ridley Scott, cost over $750,000. Set in a dystopian future, the advertisement opens with drone-like workers filing into a massive auditorium to watch the ranting of their dictatorial leader. This vision is very similar to the future imagined by George Orwell in his novel 1984. The man on the screen—who represents Apple’s major competitor at the time, computer manufacturer IBM – utters:

My friends, each of you is a single cell in the great body of the State. And today, that great body has purged itself of parasites. We have triumphed over the unprincipled dissemination of facts. The thugs and wreckers have been cast out. And the poisonous weeds of disinformation have been consigned to the dustbin of history. Let each and every cell rejoice! For today we celebrate the first, glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directive! We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology, where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths. Our Unification of Thought is a more powerful weapon than any fleet or army on Earth! We are one people. With one will. One resolve. One cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death. And we will bury them with their own confusion! We shall prevail!

As the masses listen to their revered leader, a lone runner—pursued by military police—charges towards the screen, hurling a sledgehammer and destroying it in a brilliant burst of light. A voice over speaks the following words:  “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.”

The commercial was part of a much larger plan to promote the company’s new computer. Nevertheless, this commercial had a significant impact on the audience and the television station was flooded with calls enquiring about the product and the advertisement viewers had just seen. Unquestionably, the commercial ushered in a new era of big-concept, big-budget commercials. And it did what great commercials should do. It developed brand identity, contributing to the sense that Apple was rebellious and innovative.

Apple’s ‘Think Different’ campaign attracted both praise and criticism. The television commercial featured images of famous figures from the 20th century, including Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, Alfred Hitchcock, Muhammad Ali, Mahatma Gandhi, Pablo Picasso and Jim Henson. “Here’s to the crazy ones,” actor Richard Dreyfuss said. “The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” While the commercial delivered an inspiring message which aimed to promote a reputation for innovation, there were many people who were offended by the company associating themselves with these famous figures. As a result, the campaign became a target for culture jammers who wished to subvert the message. Images of the figures used in the campaign were replaced by Joseph Stalin with the tag line ‘Think Really Different’. Nevertheless, this campaign is a wonderful example of how great advertisements don’t just tell audiences about products, they develop brands.

In 2003, Apple launched an advertising campaign for the iPod which featured dancing silhouettes against colourful backgrounds. The advertisements don’t tell you much about the product. Their sole purpose is to develop a sense that the brand is fun and distinctive. These advertisements won numerous awards and helped to increase sales of the product. By 2011, Apple had sold 300 million iPods worldwide.


  1. In your own words, describe what a brand is.
  2. What does the word demographic mean? Describe four different demographics that advertisers might target.
  3. Briefly describe your favourite advertisement or advertising campaign. Why do you like it?
  4. Write down a list of qualities that you think make a successful advertising campaign.

Ever thought of working in the advertising industry? Check out the different roles people undertake during the production of an advertising campaign at the Gruen Transfer website.


  1. What does a copy writer do?
  2. What is the role of an art director?
  3. What does a creative director do?
  4. What does a production manager do?


Advertising agencies are trying to find new ways of engaging consumers who are becoming increasingly desensitised to traditional forms of advertising, such as print, radio and television advertisements. In a recent report, titled ‘The End of Advertising as We Know It’, IBM predicted big changes in the advertising industry as consumers spend less time watching television and more time online:

The report observes four change drivers tipping the advertising industry balance of power: control of attention, creativity, measurement, and advertising inventories. As shown in IBM’s global digital media and entertainment consumer survey released in August, consumers’ attention has shifted, with personal Internet time rivaling TV time. Consumers have tired of interruption advertising, and are increasingly in control of how they interact, filter, distribute, and consume their content, and associated advertising messages. IBM’s survey findings demonstrated that half of DVR owners watch 50 percent or more of programming on re-play, and that traditional video advertising doesn’t translate online: 40 percent of respondents found ads during an online video segment more annoying than any other format. Amateurs and semi-professionals are increasingly creating low cost advertising content that threatens to bypass creative agencies, while publishers and broadcasters are broadening their own creative roles.

JWT talks about advertising having to move beyond an interruptive medium. They believe that the great brands of the next twenty years will be brands that create ideas that people want to spend time with, that they actively seek out and participate in and pass on. The chief of JWT, wrote this about the direction of advertising: “Our job is not to polish the windows on brands, but to create doors that let people inside and to invite them in to continue the conversation and get them interacting and involved. As the old adage says, “Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.” When people come through the door, we must give them an experience that’s deserving of their time. It can’t be the same-old-same-old with a fresh coat of polish; the product and the brand experience need to be rich, relevant and multifaceted.”


Viral marketing is a relatively new form of advertising that uses social networks—such as Facebook and Twitter—to spread a message. Viral marketing is seen as a way to engage consumers in an advertising campaign and combat increasing cynicism about advertising. Most advertising on radio and television is very intrusive and viral advertising seeks to involve consumers actively in spreading the message.

In an early example of viral marketing, BMW created a series of short online films called The Hire. These films, which starred Clive Owen as “The Driver” were directed by some of the most famous directors in the world, including John WooGuy Richie, Joe Carnahan and Tony Scott. BMW created the campaign after discovering that approximately 85% of their customers researched the vehicles on the internet before purchasing them. According to an article by Tom Hespos, the films were the basis for an extremely successful viral campaign, almost all of the people who downloaded the movies recommended them to other people. The Hire was one of the earliest and most successful examples of a company embracing the potential of internet video to market its products.

Sony’s viral marketing campaign for Shadow of the Colossus was another viral marketing success. The campaign featured a number of videos, fake news reports, blogs, working email addresses and international telephone numbers to generate buzz about the game.

The release of The Dark Knight was preceded by an intense, interactive online viral marketing campaign. The campaign involved legitimate looking Gotham City websites which were hacked by the Joker, Joker cards that turned up in random comic book stores scrawled with cryptic messages and a string of online clues that interested fans could follow.

Old Spice’s ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ advertising campaign was an unexpected viral marketing success. By 2011, the advertisement had been viewed more than 36 million times on YouTube.


BMW Films: The Ultimate Marketing Scheme

The Dark Knight’s Viral Campaign Gets Very Real

Shadow of the Colossus viral marketing campaign

The Making of ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’


Product placement, when a brand or product features prominently in a film or television program has been around for a long time. In 1873, shipping copies lobbied author Jules Verne to appear in his serial Around the World in Eighty Days.

In 1949, the Marx Brothers film Love Happy used product placement after the production started to run out of money. A chase scene which prominently featured a billboard for Mobil was scripted into the film.

In 1982, Mars famously refused to let Steven Spielberg use M&Ms in his film E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Instead, the filmmakers used Reese’s Pieces which, at the time, was a relatively new product by Hershey’s. Although the company didn’t pay to have their product in the film, they agreed to spend a million dollars advertising the movie along with their product. After the film premiered, sales of the confectionary increased by a staggering sixty-five per cent. Product placement allows filmmakers to generate revenue and increase box office sales through co-promotion. If a product is featured in a film, its manufactures will often run a campaign which also promotes the film.

Product placement also has other benefits. Brands often provide cars, phones and clothes to film productions. Filmmakers save money because they don’t have to hire these items, the brands benefit because they get on-screen exposure.


Although product placement has been around since the early days of film, digital product placement is a relatively new phenomenon, allowing advertisers to digitally insert products into films and television programs long after they first go to air.

In 2011, the blogosphere exploded when people noticed a magazine advertising the film Zookeeper in a four year old rerun of the sitcom How I Met Your Mother. Subsequent episodes also featured advertisements for the film Bad Teacher. These products were digitally placed into the episode by advertising company SeamBI. A similar service is offered by MirriAd whose showreel shows how seamlessly products can be inserted into existing film and television.

“It’s a fact that people skip TV ads whenever possible, and that viewing figures drop off by an average of 25% during breaks,” MirriAd’s website says. “We also know that online audiences don’t like banner ads, and find ways to block pop-ups. In reality, most people would rather not have their viewing experience interrupted at all. By embedding brands seamlessly into content, we offer an alternative marketing solution that keeps the viewer happy, and is more likely to generate a positive response. And because our end to end online campaign management system is quick and easy to use, advertisers can take advantage of last minute media opportunities and create scale at short notice.”


A brief history of product placement

The 10 Most Shameless Product Placements in Movie History

Product Placement Goes Digital

Product Placement in TV/Film/Games


In The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock takes a look at the lucrative world of brand integration. The film—which is about product placement, marketing and advertising—is entirely funded by product placement, marketing and advertising.

“The goal of this whole film is transparency,” says Spurlock. “You’re going to see the whole thing take place.”

During the course of the film, Spurlock attempts to raise the revenue necessary to make his movie. Along the way, he interviews anti-advertising activists, advertisers and well-known directors.


As you’re watching the film, answer the following questions:

  1. Which two developments mean that fewer people are sitting through television commercials?
  2. What is the modern phrase for ‘product placement’?
  3. In addition to advertising, what other benefit does brand integration have?
  4. In 2010, how much money was spent on advertising and marketing?
  5. What is a brand personality?
  6. What is Ralph Nader’s fear about the documentary?
  7. What does Professor Sut Jhally say about advertising?
  8. What does Professor Mark Crispin say about advertising?
  9. What is unique about São Paulo, Brazil?
  10. How are trailers created using neuromarketing?
  11. What does Susan Linn, author of Consuming Kids, suggest that advertising is doing to children?
  12. What is Channel One and how many schools does it broadcast to?
  13. How much does it cost for a 30 second TV spot?
  14. What does Donald Trump have to say about celebrity endorsements?
  15. How do brands use music? Why is this an opportunity for musicians?


What happens if you’re offended or insulted by a commercial? In Australia, the Advertising Standards Bureau is a free service which handles consumer complaints about advertising. According to the ASB website, these issues might include “the use of language, the discriminatory portrayal of people, concern for children, portrayals of violence, sex, sexuality and nudity, health and safety, and marketing of food and beverages to children.” The ASB has a number of codes which govern the content of advertisements. Mainly they aim to ensure that advertisements are “legal, decent, honest and truthful and that they have been prepared with a sense of obligation to the consumer and society and fair sense of responsibility to competitors.”


Read the following complaints made to the Advertising Standards Board. Briefly describe: the nature of the advertisement, the issue raise, the advertiser’s response, the determination of the board.

Meat and Livestock Australia

McDonald’s Australia

Toyota Australia


When you’ve finished all of the activities, watched all of the videos and read all of the articles above, try this short test on advertising, brand, product placement and viral marketing.