Advertising - Looking at Both Sides

14 Apr 2004|Added Value

A few weeks ago I was invited to give a presentation to the local chapter of the National Charity League. They suggested that I might be able to address the topic of subliminal advertising. The presentation is next Monday, so naturally I’m waiting until the last minute to gel my ideas into a PowerPoint. But in the meantime I’ve been listening, reading and collecting ideas about advertising with this event and particular request in mind.

In contrast to the usual audience my colleagues address (branding and marketing execs), my audience will be educated women introducing their teen daughters to philanthropy. Their skepticism toward advertising isn’t about its lack of effectiveness. Instead their concern centers around the underlying motivations and the tactics that “we marketers” use to convey our message. For weeks I’ve been thinking about how to talk to this group – both as someone who has made a living in marketing, but is also annoyed at how it’s infiltrated my life outside of work.

I don’t believe that “subliminal advertising” in the old sense exists (at least, I never could find those hidden sexual images in an ice cube-filled glass of liquor). But at a recent AIGA lecture featuring Todd Waterbury from Wieden+Kennedy, someone asked if Wieden’s ESPN2 documentary of Roy Jones Jr. for Nike’s Jordan Brand wasn’t being dishonest in not making Nike’s association more apparent. I didn’t think so, but clearly mistrust of hidden messages still exists.

I’m still reconciling these two sides – consumer and marketer. I think the answer rests simply in the fact that through understanding another’s needs and motivations can we appreciate what they’re saying and evaluate its relevance to us. Being educated on how media works (or doesn’t) is one step to making us more conscencious consumers.

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