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Advertising As A Form Of Mass Communication



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Advertising has become a very popular social engagement in recent times. Gone are the days when products and services could only be advertised on electronic and print media.

In recent times, social media and blogs readily bring advertisements closer to everyone with or without our consent. In the face of this, I shall discuss the concept, functions, impacts, classification and appeals of advertising.

Advertising concerns paying for the presentation and promotion of products, goods and/or services. In a more comprehensive manner, Borden and Marshall (1959) conceptualise advertising as consisting of those activities by which visual or oral messages are addressed to selected publics for the purpose of informing and influencing them to buy products or services, or to act or to be inclined to act favourably towards ideas, persons, trademarks or institutions featured.


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This definition shows that anything at all can be advertised: products, services, persons and even trademarks. Whether it is made obvious or not, advertising is always being paid for. This is one thing that differentiates it from publicity. While someone has to pay for an advert, publicity might just ride on goodwill and support.

Every business can benefit from advertising. This is because advertising is capable of skyrocketing sales, patronage and affection. Advertising, therefore, performs certain functions among which is to help publicise products and differentiate them from one another.

If it were not for advertising, it would be easy for anyone to want to conclude that all lager beers are the same and all bathing soaps are the same, thereby making use of anyone that is available. Advertising is what endears one to a brand or a particular product. Advertising also helps to strengthen loyalty to a product. It widens the base of a product and shares information about the features and benefits of such a product or service.



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Moving on, advertising has a number of impacts that are worth mentioning. First of all, advertising has economic impacts because it boosts the economy of society through healthy competition among goods and service providers. As opined by Bakare (2017), advertising affects the value of the products, the prices, the preferences of people and in turn the business cycle for a country. There are also social impacts of advertising.

This is mainly because it brings about public criticism in the event that a product or service does not measure up to expectations. Companies, agencies and organisations, therefore, try to adhere to social expectations once their products, services, brands or trademarks are being advertised.


Instructively, too, advertising has been classified along some parameters which are the target audience, medium and purpose. Using the criterion of the target audience, this kind of advertising is targeted at a specific population of the people of society. Such adverts are not designed to appeal to everybody. The two types of the target audience are the consumer target audience and the business target audience.

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The consumer target audience form of advertising is done in the mass media and print media, sponsored by the manufacturer of a product or service provider. This type of advert is targeted at the direct users of the product or service. The business target audience form of advertising is publicised in specialised business publications or professional journals. They are, sometimes, directly sent as emails to organisations. They are targeted at a limited number of people who could be in the industrial, trade, professional or agricultural sectors.

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Advertising can be classified based on the medium of transmission which could be print, electronic, billboard or internet/social media. Adverts are also classified based on the purposes they are expected to serve. Some adverts aim at promoting goods and/or services while others are targeted at promoting ideas. Further, adverts may be leveraged to create awareness in order to galvanise the target audience into action. This is used by politicians and political parties who try to campaign by creating awareness about their projects and other achievements.

Away from the foregoing, there are a number of ways to catch the attention of product users or members of society at large through the instrument of advertising. These ways are referred to as advertising appeals. Two factors determining the appeal of any advert are the product’s reason and the benefits derived from such a product. These two must be clearly stated for a product to appeal to the public. The emotional-cum-rational appeal deals with the psychological need to buy a product or subscribe to a service on the emotional side and the direct benefits of such a product or service on the logical side. There is also the positive-cum-negative appeal.


In this strategy, the positive appeal emphasises the benefits that come with buying a product or subscribing to a service while the negative appeal talks about the looming dangers of not subscribing to what is being advertised. A political candidate, for instance, may emphasise the problems that a society may face by voting for another party, having referenced the other party’s antecedents. Scholars also talk about general appeals which dwell on general benefits such as health, sex, economic, social and other generally desired gains that come with a product.

In conclusion, advertising is a useful concept in any society, and it serves different classes of people differently. This piece, as such, is an eye-opener to its functions, forms and appeals. It helps anyone understand how best to deploy it or how to make it available to others.

(c) 2022 Ganiu Abisoye Bamgbose
Department of English,
Lagos State University

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