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Does advertising work?

As Father’s Day came and went, it prompted me to reflect on the pervasive impact of advertising and its ability to plant seeds in our subconscious. Throughout history, we have witnessed numerous examples of how powerful advertising campaigns have shaped our beliefs and influenced our behaviour, seamlessly integrating their messages into our cultural fabric.

Kellogg’s, played a pivotal role in establishing the belief that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’. Through compelling campaigns and endorsements, they promoted the idea that a nutritious breakfast, often featuring their products, was essential for our physical and mental well-being. While breakfast holds benefits, the notion of it being the utmost critical meal may not hold true for everyone.


Similarly, toothpaste manufacturers like Colgate have often encouraged excessive toothpaste usage. By depicting toothbrushes brimming with toothpaste, they have created the perception that more equates to better oral hygiene. However, dental professionals advocate for a pea-sized amount, revealing the sway advertising has on our perception of what constitutes effective dental care.

The story is... A toothpaste manufacturer determined to boost their sales. Within the company, an ingenious idea emerged, promising to double their profits. The concept was remarkably straightforward: feature advertisements depicting toothbrushes coated generously with toothpaste, far exceeding the recommended pea-sized amount. Over time, through extensive advertising efforts, the prevailing notion was subtly implanted that a substantial quantity of toothpaste was essential for proper oral care, far surpassing the actual requirement.


The notorious promotion by Camel cigarettes that smoking aids in weight control. Through clever advertisements, they insinuated that smoking suppresses appetite, appealing to the desires of individuals seeking both thinness and smoking satisfaction. Yet, this notion conveniently ignored the detrimental health effects of smoking, illustrating how deceptive messaging can mould our perceptions.


In another instance, the diamond company De Beers successfully propagated the notion that an engagement ring should cost two months’ salary. With strategic marketing campaigns, they instilled the belief that a significant financial investment was necessary to demonstrate love and commitment. This marketing construct, despite lacking historical tradition, became deeply ingrained in our cultural consciousness.

The De Beers diamond cartel launched an influential advertising campaign in the 1930s that ingrained an idea into Western popular culture. The campaign aimed to associate diamonds with engagements, a concept that wasn't customary at the time. Before World War Two, only 10% of engagement rings contained diamonds, but by the end of the 20th century, that number soared to 80%.

During the campaign's early stages, De Beers suggested spending a month's salary on a ring. The advertisements featured captivating images and slogans, including a pouting woman with a diamond ring, conveying the message that two months' salary showcased a prosperous future.

De Beers' marketing efforts not only established the salary-based calculation but also closely linked diamonds to the concept of engagement rings. The breakthrough moment came when the advertising firm NW Ayer and Son crafted the famous tagline "A Diamond is Forever" in 1947, penned by Frances Gerety. This slogan proved incredibly successful.

These achievements, solidifying the diamond ring as an integral part of marriage and dictating the expected expenditure, constitute one of the most triumphant marketing endeavors to date. Dr. TC Melewar, a professor of marketing and strategy at Middlesex University, describes it as inventing a tradition that tapped into the underlying desire to commemorate the celebration of love. Once the tradition took hold, a specific value could be assigned to it, such as a month or two's salary. The emotive nature of the purchase ensured that men would willingly pay the expected amount.


These examples illustrate the lasting impact of advertising on our collective psyche. They serve as reminders that the messages we consider unquestionable truths are often the results of meticulously crafted campaigns designed to influence our perceptions, behaviours, and even our financial decisions.

As we navigate an increasingly saturated media landscape, it is crucial to maintain a critical lens and question the motives behind the messages we encounter. By doing so, we can resist the subtle manipulation of advertising and make informed choices aligned with our values and well-being.

So, the pervasiveness of advertising should not be underestimated, it has the power to shape our beliefs, influence our behaviours, and even redefine cultural norms. As consumers, we must remain vigilant and discerning, recognising the persuasive tactics employed by advertising campaigns and making conscious choices that align with our authentic selves.

These examples are proof that advertising does work and by being consistent with your messaging you’ll leave a lasting impression in your viewers mind

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